Whether a mass shooting or a deadly tornado, scary events in the news can leave parents struggling to know when and how they should talk with their kids about it. We hope that the expert advice and curated resources on this page will support you in your goal of helping your children cope and process disturbing news in the healthiest way.
Families Connected Resources
Expert advice - communication strategies and insight for parents
Tips for parents
Limit their exposure to breaking news.
For the really big stories, pick a quiet moment and start the conversation by asking what kids have heard and how they're feeling.
Give facts and context: Let kids know that most scary news events are rare. Show them where it is happening on a map.
When they ask why something happened, avoid labels like "bad guys."
Encourage kids to process the story through play, art, even video.
Take positive action together.
Related content on the Families Connected Website to help youth manage:
Curated National Resources
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Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers (National Association of School Psychologists)
Explaining the News to Our Kids, by Caroline Knorr (Common Sense Media)
How to Talk to Kids About Violence, Crime, and War, by Caroline Knorr (Common Sense Media)
Helping Your Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting (American Psychological Association)
What Parents Can Do to Aid Scared Kids in Processing Grief and Fear in a Healthy Way (Child Mind Institute)
Recommended national resources and guides for talking with, and supporting your kids
This outstanding PDF from SAMHSA provides parents, caregivers and teachers tips for talking with and helping children and youth cope after a disaster or traumatic event. It is broken out in age ranges 0-5 and 6-19. Also visit this link for helpful hotlines and national resources.
The link above will take you to the NCTSN resource page providing a list of catastrophic mass violence resources.
This article from the Greater Good Science Center out of Berkeley offers nine specific tips for taking with kids about trauma.
The Anti-Defamation Leage offers "Table Talk: Family Conversations About Current Events."