Talking to Your Children about Tragedies in the News

Talking to Your Children about Tragedies in the News

There’s been a lot of violence in the news lately; it seems like there’s another shooting or bombing nearly every day. These tragedies all get substantial media coverage, whether it’s accurate or not.

How do we talk to our kids when there is often so much still unknown, but there are graphic images and reports everywhere? Do we even talk to them about it?

  • If your child is old enough to be connected to social media or has friends that are, they already know something. It is good to find out what they understand and correct as much misinformation as possible. Not talking about can make an event seem even worse to a child.
  • Limit exposure to the media. There may not be many facts yet, but there is lots of video with graphic images. Adults do not need to see this more than once (if they do at all) and kids certainly should not.
  • Children and teens may be strongly affected by what happened, or they might not be affected at all. It often depends on prior experiences and their age.
  • It is usually best to continue with your usual routines as much as possible, but it can be appropriate to relax the rules.
  • Seek professional help if your child is having a severe and/or prolonged reaction to the event. Your pediatrician is an excellent resource.

For more tips, you can view a Facebook Live chat with Colleen Cicchetti, PhD, and Tara Gill, PhD. They are pediatric psychologists and experts in treatment for children who have been exposed to trauma. They gave the audience some great advice.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also has some great information on talking to children about disasters, and I found the National Child Traumatic Stress Network to be very helpful.

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