With the current 24/7 news cycle, it can difficult to shield your children from hearing about violent acts and tragic events. Many parents wonder, “how do I talk to my young child about something so serious?” We have collected various resources to help.
The first thing for parents and caregivers to understand is that safety is instrumental to child development. All humans, but young children especially, need to feel safe in order to explore and learn. If we, as humans, feel unsafe, it becomes impossible to focus on anything else. This is why routines are so important to children. Predictable routines make them feel secure and like the world is “orderly.”
We do everything we can to make children feel safe. However, if a child in your life has heard about or even worse, witnessed a violent act, it can jeopardize their feelings of security. While discussing something like this can seem daunting, not talking about it can actually make it feel more threatening to the child. It is important to be calm, open and honest with children but not to make false promises. Young children may have questions but they do not need long explanations. The primary focus should be that we, as the adults in their lives, will do everything we can to keep them safe.
We’ve collected a few resources to help you navigate these discussions with your children. Click the titles below for more information.
Troubling Times from Sesame Street in Communities
Helping Children Cope After a Traumatic Event from Child Mind Institute
Talking to Kids about Fear and Violence from Mental Health America
Talking to Children about the Shooting from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network