Talking with your child about tragedy
Today’s massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut is devastating. At this time, 27 people, including 20 children, are reported dead.
A common question at times like these is, “How should I discuss this with my children?” There is no script — but there are helpful strategies that might allow you and your child to talk through things together. I found a few good resources I hope you’ll find helpful.
PBS Parents offers wonderful guidance under five basic recommendations:
- Start by finding out what your child already knows.
- Ask a follow-up question.
- Explain simply.
- Listen, and acknowledge.
- Offer reassurance.
Dr. David Fassler, writing for the The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, offers good guidance. Among his suggestions is this passage that caught my eye:
Be prepared to repeat information and explanations several times. Some information may be hard for them to accept or understand. Asking the same question over and over may also be a way for a child to ask for reassurance.
The Academy also has posted the following papers you may find of interest:
- Children and firearms
- Children and grief
- Children and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Understanding violent behavior in children and adolescents
The Child Mind Institute also has posted a good guide on how to help children cope with terrible news of someone’s death, and the Institute posted this video about caring for kids after a school shooting: