During times marked by senseless tragedy — consider the string of mass murders in America that has buffeted the news media this autumn — most parents are unprepared to know how to protect their children from trauma that these events might trigger. It might seem counterintuitive, but talking to kids about tragedy and exposing them to the anger, sadness, and pain that comes along with the experience is one of the key ways of helping your child cope with tragedy.
Talking to Kids About Tragedy
Talking to your kids about tragedy is likely not their first introduction to a specific event. They’ll hear about it at school, encounter it through social media, or absorb bits and pieces from adults who are discussing the tragedy, and the events may even get distorted along the way. Talking to your kids about tragedy will help you get a handle on what they know and understand, while also letting them know that you’re there to listen.
While talking to kids about tragedy is a good starting point helping them cope, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network emphasizes that parents should not force their child to talk about a tragic event. Instead, focus on spending extra quality time with children in the week or two following a tragic event, whether or not they decide that they want to talk about it.
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