It was crushing to hear of the tragedy that struck Aurora, Colorado upon waking this morning. I have already shared on several social media outlets about helping the grieving children and teens affected by the shootings. However, my mind still continues to wander to the youngsters who may live on the other side of the country from Aurora, but are hearing about and seeing the news of the tragedy.
Here are some general tips when talking to young children about the tragedy:
1. Don't Assume the Child Knows Nothing
Although you may not have told the child about the tragedy, he may have overheard adult conversations or TV News Bulletins.
What do you know? What did you hear? Listen for the child to make mention of the shootings and gently probe to learn what they know.
3. Be Honest
Share that a bad thing did happen, but that it is being taken care of. "The police have the man who did this. He cannot hurt anyone else." We do not need to share all of the details with young children.
4. Focus on the Positives
Focus on the "helper" people. When bad things happen, helper people come to help. Police and ambulance workers were there to help the people they could.
5. Let Them Know They are Safe
Young children may think that their own personal safety is at risk. Let them know that they are safe and that things will remain the same in your community and household. Acknowledge that it is a scary thing that happened, but that it is over. What happened in that movie almost never, ever, ever happens.
6. Limit Media Exposure
With cable and satellite TV, news outlets are available 24/7. Be careful to ensure that your child is not exposed to ongoing stories about the shootings. Young children may believe the shootings are happening over and over again, or are still going on. Best to find the news you are looking for after they are in bed, or on your computer or mobile device.
7. Give Plenty of Hugs
Children always need physical affection, but they may need even more during times of stress or anxiety.
All of us at Kidlutions are sending prayers and healing vibes to Aurora and its surrounding areas.
You can find more support on the Aurora shootings at 411Voices.com