How to help kids be ok

How to Talk about Public Tragedies with Your Kids

  • April 12th, 2023
  • By Pathway Caring for Children

There have been disheartening and horrific headlines popping up on screens over the past couple of weeks. Lives lost far too soon. How do you have open conversations with your children while you’re sorting through your own emotional response? 

These tips have been adapted from the NCTSN (National Child Traumatic Stress Network).

Things I Can Do for My Child:
Spend time talking with your children. Let them know that they are welcome to ask questions and express their concerns and feelings. You should remain open to answering questions and providing helpful information and support. 

Promote your children’s self-care. Help children by encouraging them to drink enough water, eat regularly, and get enough rest and exercise. 

Help children feel safe. Talk with children about their concerns over safety.  

Address acting out behaviors. Help children/teens understand that “acting out” behaviors are a dangerous way to express strong feelings over what happened. Talk with children about other ways of coping with these feelings (distraction, exercise, writing in a journal, spending time with others).  

Limit media exposure. Protect your child from too much media coverage about the attacks. Media coverage and social media technologies can trigger fears. Let them know they can distract themselves with another activity or that they can talk to you about how they are feeling. 

Be patient. Children may be more distracted and need added help.

Address withdrawal/shame/guilt feelings. Explain that these feelings are common and correct excessive self-blame with realistic explanations of what actually could have been done. Reassure them that they did not cause any of the deaths and that it was not a punishment for anything that anyone did “wrong.” 

Address radical changes in attitudes and expectations for the future. Explain to children that changes in people’s attitudes are common after a tragedy like this. These feelings can include feeling scared, angry, and sometimes revengeful. Find other ways to make them feel more in control and talk about their feelings.  

Seek professional help. If teens have continued difficulties for a couple of months after the attacks, parents should consult a trusted helper—a doctor or mental health professional.Pathway’s licensed therapists are committed to creating a caring and individualized plan. We are here for YOU and YOUR Family. Reach out today to or 330-493-0083 for more info.