How to Talk to Your Children About Tragedy, Part 1 of 2

How to Talk to Your Children About Tragedy, Part 1 of 2

Tragedies have become far too common in our society. It seems as if every time I turn on the news, our nation is facing yet another tragic situation. As adults, it can be hard for us to understand or even wrap our minds around.

It can be even harder to try to explain a tragedy to our children. How do you even start?

Detailed below are few tips in order to help you talk to your children when faced with tragedy:

  • Reassure your kids – Children need to be assured that everything is okay in order to feel safe again. Although you might not be able to guarantee that nothing will ever happen to your family, reassure them that you are all safe in this moment. This will give them the feeling of safety and security again.
  • Avoid graphic details – In general, it is best to share basic information and avoid graphic details. Tell your children enough so that they have an understanding of what is going on, while leaving out unnecessary details about tragic circumstances.
  • Ask open-ended questions – Don’t assume what your children understand about the situation. Instead, ask them what their understanding is of what happened. What have they heard? What have they seen? Ask them what they know so that you know how to best address the situation.
  • Don’t assume how they are feeling – Try not to assume that you understand how your children are feeling about it either. What do they think about the situation? How are they feeling about it? This will help you gauge how best to give them reassurance. Use this a time to educate your child about feelings and let them know that it’s okay to feel whatever they might be feeling.
  • Use it as a teaching moment – Use these moments as a way to facilitate discussions on how to help others. This gives you an opportunity to model compassion to your children.

Look out for my next blog, which outlines how to help your children cope when tragedy strikes.

Amanda Dempsey, LAMFT
Adempsey @

Photo Credit: Public Domain

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