Family Therapist Gives Advice On Talking To Your Kids About Tragic Events

This is a though one. What is the right way to talk to our children about events like the mass shooting that just occurred in Las Vegas, because they’re going to have questions?

Licensed marriage and family therapist Susan Stiffelman shared her to six tips with Us Weekly.

  • Turn off the news – wait until the kids are in bed before tuning in, “Children are easily overwhelmed by somber newscasters repeatedly sharing frightening images and worrisome updates.”
  • Answer only the questions that you are asked, “Tailor your response to his specific question to avoid flooding him with information.”
  • Steer clear of abstract concepts – if presented with the question, “Why?” perhaps answer with, “No one really knows why this person did such a terrible thing. But we do know that he was very confused in his mind.”
  • Make it safe to come to you for help with big feelings – saying things like, “don’t worry” can fuel a child’s anxiety.  “While you may not be able to dismiss all her concerns, she will be comforted just knowing she can lean on you when she’s scared.”
  • Offer practical reassurance – a child’s world is very small and they often wonder when they hear of tragic events if it could happen to them,  “Remind your child of the millions of gatherings that happen safely each day and the thousands of people who are hard at work to keep us safe.”
  • Teach tolerance – while many of us feel powerless after frightening events there is something we can do, “We can conduct ourselves in a way that makes it clear to our children that all people are worthy of respect. Model for your children the fact that every human life is precious and you will be helping stem the tide of hate-fueled violence.”

Susan Stiffelman also authored the book ‘Parenting Without Power Struggles.’

More from Marilyn Nelson
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