Tips For Talking To Kids About Tragedy

By now, most everyone knows about the horrific event that took place last week in Aurora, Colorado. A 24-year-old man named James Holmes, opened fire on lots of innocent people at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, leaving 12 dead, and 58 injured. The sadness surrounding this senseless event has been catastrophic, and since the tragedy, many have been wondering how to talk to their children about something of this magnitude.

J. Maria Bermudez, Ph.D., LMFT, has been a marriage and family therapist for 18 years. Dr. Bermudez regularly walks Latino parents through talking to their children about difficult topics and shares some tips with Latina.

Be The Role Model

Regardless of what you may think, you are the greatest role model and influence in your child’s life. It is important to remember that your child watches you, and how you handle difficult situations more than anyone else. How you react to the tragedy at hand, especially while you are talking to them about it, is very important. So make sure you are ready to talk to your kids, so you can react appropriately.

Be Positive

It is important to focus on anything positive once tragedy strikes. If you are focusing on things that are negative your child will feel that. An example of this would be: after explaining to your child what happened in Colorado, focus on how the shooter in now in jail, and also turned their attention to the survivors and their miraculous stories. No matter how horrific the situation is, there is always something positive to be found. So find it, and focus on it.

Age Matters

It’s important to keep in mind to be age-appropriate when talking to your children about tragedy. For example, a four-year-old doesn’t need to know the details of what happened but can know that something bad happened and that we should keep the victims in our thoughts and prayers. However, someone who is a pre-teen or teen can hear more of the details and can be taught valuable lessons from those details such as: empathy towards the victims, and valuing everyday life. So make sure you keep their age in mind when speaking to your children.

Always Let Them Know Your Values

Your attitude about violence and crime is very important. You may think your children are not listening to you, but they are. So sharing why something is wrong (like shooting innocent people in a movie) is vital. Also, never stop talking with your children about these issues not matter what age they are because you will always be able to make an impact.

Listen To How The Feel

Children have opinions too, and it is very important to listen to how they feel. After talking with them about something sad or tragic, they may be confused and have questions. Spending as much time as they need to discuss how they are feeling, will make a child feel valued and loved, and this is crucial following some not so great news.

What's the best way you've found for talking about tragedy? Share in the comments!