How to Help Your Children with Tragedy in the News

In the wake of the Newtown, CT tragedy, how to help your children deal with tragedy in the news

Tragedy happens all around us, but when it involves innocent children there are few words that can express the pain any caring person feels.  This week, a shooter took the lives of 20 innocent school children including several teachers and staff members at a small town school here in Connecticut.  That means Heaven accepted 20 new little angels this morning.  If your own children haven’t heard about it, they most likely will.  Here are some tips on how to help your children handle the news of this unthinkable tragedy.

First and foremost it’s important that you settle any fears your children may have.  They are torn between the worlds of fantasy and reality, so it may be very difficult for them to tell the difference between what is real and what isn’t.  Make every effort to listen to them carefully and with 100% of your attention.  It is important that you help them feel safe and calm.  Sometimes they may fear that what happened to the children at this school will happen to them.

Minimize (if not eliminate) any news coverage or discussion about the tragedy.  The less they hear about it the better it will be for them.  Refrain from having the news on when they are present at home or in the car while you’re driving.  Too much exposure will overwhelm them and generate more fearful feelings that it could come to their school

Allow yourself to grieve privately.  Your children look to you and your feelings as a guide on how they should feel.  If you are feeling sad about this event and they notice, your children will feel sadder.  Allow yourself to grieve in private, away from your children.  Allow a friend or family member to stay with your children while you find the time to be alone to let your feelings out about this tragedy.  Avoid keeping it all bottled up inside.

Take measures to pull your family closer together over the next few days.  Cancel less important activities and create family time to help your child feel more loved.  Take measures to feel gratitude that this did not happen to your family and hold and love your children a little more than usual.  It will help to further settle your child’s fears and help you deal with the sadness we are all feeling about this tragic event.

Finally, use this occurrence to be sure that you are taking all possible measures to ensure your child’s safety where ever she goes.  It is doubtful that the families who lost children in this massacre could have done anything different to avoid what happened.  But tragedies come in all forms so take a closer look at all possible risks that could affect your child’s safety and well being.

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Overload December 16, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Won't it be better to have some sense of continuum for the children of this country. TV should show the Season's special holiday shows and not focus on the act or what happened or might have happened. Children will be more upset by seeing this on tv and on radio. on all stations. We have to wait until the State police inform us of what happened. Too much false information on on the news sources.
Bill Corbett December 16, 2012 at 09:52 PM
You're right Overload, it's best to guide our children into focusing on the holidays and anything other than the devastation of the tragedy. Individually, we cannot control what the media or the entertainment industry does, all we can do is control what we can do with our family and children; minimize their exposure to the news and put on holiday movies or other age-appropriate entertainment. Thanks for reading.


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