Tips on Talking to Children About Tragedies
Source: Hospice of Santa Barbara
In the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting on Sunday night, Hospice of Santa Barbara believes that the most important service they could provide locally is to provide guidance about how parents and teachers can speak to children about the senseless violence.
“In times like these, it’s more important than ever that we don’t shut down and desensitize ourselves to horrific unacceptable acts of violence,” said David Selberg, CEO of Hospice of Santa Barbara. “It is especially important that kids are allowed to process and express their feelings and not repress them.”
Hospice of Santa Barbara is available for anyone struggling to understand this tragedy for themselves or to help assist in explain it to their children.
Here are some tips provided by the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement (NCSCB) at USC that can be incredibly helpful when talking to your child about what they’ve seen in the news:
- Be honest. Don’t mislead your children or give them false information “for their own good.” The details that you give should correspond to how old your child is. The older they are, the more details they may need to properly cope with or understand the situation. You may want to consider temporarily shutting off the Internet and TV, lest they unnecessarily see graphic images of the incident.
- Let your kids know that their feelings are normal. They might feel helpless now; but this can give a way for you to teach your child about the importance of safety, tolerance, and acceptance, all of which are key to a more peaceful world.
- There is no justification for the shooter’s violent actions, period. What you can tell your child is that it is never okay to act violently or take out one’s anger in this manner, and that all lives are precious.
- Remember that it is okay for your child to ask questions; staying silent won’t make the problem disappear. The most important thing you can do is to make your child feel safe, reassured, understood, and loved.
- If you find that your child is upset for several days and unable to shake their fear, or if he/she is having trouble in school or at home, consider consulting with Hospice of Santa Barbara for possible counseling or other assistance.
Hospice of Santa Barbara offers counseling services for children and their families at no cost. But the organization also urge parents to begin the healing process at home, as necessary, by speaking to their children honestly and thoughtfully about the Las Vegas tragedy.