For Children of All Ages
Parents should start by reflecting on their own emotions before discussing sensitive
topics with their children. While it’s crucial to be clear about your feelings, it’s
also okay to embrace your emotions during difficult conversations. This helps create
a stable and supportive environment for your children.
- Avoid Euphemisms and Ambiguity: Refrain from using euphemisms, analogies, or metaphors when discussing such events.
Clear and direct language is essential, as children may become more anxious if they
sense that adults are trying to hide the truth or use vague language.
- Encourage Questions: Allow children to ask questions. Children often process information by repeatedly
asking questions. Create a safe space for them to express their curiosity and concerns.
- Validation of Feelings: It’s crucial to validate your child’s feelings. Let them know that it’s okay to feel
scared or sad about such events. Reassure them that the adults in their life will
do their best to keep them safe and that these kinds of events are rare and not likely
to happen to them.
- Follow-Up Conversations: Check back with your child later, maybe a day or even a week later, to see if they
have more questions or if they are still processing their feelings. These topics can
take time to understand, and children may have additional questions later.
- Limit Exposure to Media: For older children, it’s important to limit exposure to graphic or distressing media
coverage. Ensure that the information they receive is age-appropriate and doesn’t
cause unnecessary anxiety.
- Empowerment and Action: Discuss and plan actions that the child and the family can take to be helpers during
This can include engaging in acts of kindness, showing support for affected communities, or discussing other ways to support those suffering.
For Young Children
Simplicity and Age-Appropriate Communication: When speaking to very young children, keep the message simple and age-appropriate. For example, you can say, “Something very bad happened. Many people were hurt and killed. We will keep you safe, but you might sense that many adults are sad.” Avoid providing excessive details that might overwhelm them.
Remember that these guidelines are intended to help parents approach the topic in a way that is sensitive to the child’s age and emotional development.
Each child is unique, and the most important thing is to create an environment where children feel safe and supported in discussing their concerns and emotions.