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4 Ways to Support Children During Disturbing Times

4 Ways to Support Children During Disturbing Times

Posted on May 25, 2022 by Care Dimensions Children's Program Staff

This week, the nation is once again dealing with immense grief, this time over the killing of 19 elementary school children and two teachers in Texas. The loss is almost too much to comprehend. And for kids, even just hearing the headlines can generate fear, sadness, and feelings of uncertainty.

It can be confusing to know how to talk to our children about topics like this one, but avoiding the disucssion doesn’t make it go away. We encourage you to speak openly as a family, while also being mindful of what is age appropriate.

Here are four ways parents can help their children deal with frightening news:

1. Monitor your children’s exposure to television, radio, social media

The news can be helpful, but it can also be scary. Watching the same news clips over and over could lead to secondary trauma and cause your children to become more frightened. Monitor and limit how much television your children are watching, how much radio they are listening to, and their exposure to social media, especially before bedtime. Now may be the time to set more guidelines regarding the media sources they are allowed to access.

2. Ensure safety as much as possible

Even though it may seem our world is unsafe, it is important for your children to feel a sense of safety in their day-to-day world. Talk to them about the people who can help keep them safe, including the adults in their home and school, and the first responders in their community. Also review the safety plan in your own home and at school, and what they can do if they ever feel unsafe (call 911, tell a trusting adult, etc.).

3. Answer questions honestly, and simply

Kids have big imaginations and sometimes fast-traveling rumors at school can appear to validate a story. Encourage your children to come to you with questions, and answer them honestly, yet simply. Follow their lead about how much information they are seeking, and start with simple answers. Remember, it’s okay to not know an answer. When this happens, simply validate how hard it can be to sit with the unknown and ask about what they think they answer might be.

4. Tell stories about the helpers; encourage your children to find ways to help

Tell your children stories about the people who are helping in times of tragedy. Talk about stories of the people who are saving others, who are giving back in the form of monetary donations, or donating blood, supplies, etc. Encourage your family to come together to find a way you can help (host a bake sale or a tag sale and donate the proceeds to a local charity). Find ways to advocate and promote change to make your community better and safer.  

For resources to help children deal with grief, visit our Children’s Programs page.

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