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Talking to Kids about Tragic News (Like the Las Vegas Shooting)

First thing Monday morning my husband told me the news about the Las Vegas shooting. It was a news alert on his phone and he gasped as he shared the awful news with me.  We both poured over the little bit of information that was available about what had happened. Just the weekend before we were both in Las Vegas which made everything hit home just a little bit more. I immediately jumped on Facebook to check on two friends of mine that I knew were at the concert to see if they were safe.  Thank goodness they were not harmed physically but were definitely traumatized by the whole situation.

Over the next few days, I kept hearing stories of friends of ours that had loved ones there.  One friend had a loved one that was shot in the leg and was one of the 500 injured.  Two Manhattan Beach residents including a middle school teacher (Sandra Casey) and police department employee (Rachael Parker) were killed.  I know many of you had friends and family there as well, and my thoughts and prayers are with you and all the people and families affected.

This left me wondering after such a display of violence and hatred, how in the world can parents explain this act of terror to their children? What do you say when your children come home from school after hearing rumors or wondering if they are safe?

On social media I began seeing parents openly sharing that they don't know what to tell their children so I thought I'd take a stab at it.  In our courses, one of the words of wisdom shared often is that "Hurt People, Hurt People". When someone is hurt or in pain and does not process it or deal with it, sometimes they may take it out on others. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. It is not okay, but it helps us understand it a tiny bit more. This is why it is so important to be kind to others. To stand up for those who struggle to stand up for themselves as well.

Children will look to you and often mirror your emotions during uncertain times. Do your best to model calmness and control in addition to your sadness and grief. Young people don’t always know how they are supposed to feel, so they are going to look to you first.

Limit your news intake and gossiping with others around your children. They can easily eavesdrop and pick up on your emotional energy.

Look for ways to help and support those affected is another great strategy to foster compassion and service. This also helps with healing and helps us feel some sense of control in being a part of the solution. Many have given blood or helped with relief efforts.

Most importantly do not allow this event to take over your entire family time and overshadow everyone’s thoughts and emotions.  Sometimes scary things happen, but we can get through it as a family is a good message to send your children.  We don’t have to get stuck in it. Try to keep up a normal routine in your schedule and time truly does heal our wounds. 

I went on a hunt for resources to help support parents and those who work with children have this difficult conversation with young people and here are some additional resources to help.

The National Association of School Psychologists has a checklist of tips that can help children cope with terrorism, and whether you are a parent, teacher, or simply someone who is struggling to make sense of all this death and violence, the tips can greatly help.


Despite the fact there's so much going on in the world right now, Ellen Degeneres still believes there's a lot more good in the world than bad. Over the past 15 seasons, Ellen has met many people who do good in the world, and these are just some of them. Take a look back at these everyday heroes who have helped make the world a better place. https://www.ellentube.com/video/ellen-isnt-giving-up-hope-in-the-midst-of-devastating-events.html
Dr. Laura Berman has a wonderful blog and this is what she had to say. http://drlauraberman.com/2017/10/how-to-talk-to-children-about-the-mass-shooting-in-las-vegas/
For a list of all the victims https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2017/10/06/here-all-victims-las-vegas-shooting/733236001/
There are also support forums popping up on social media if you would like additional support.
Hope these quick tips help a bit. If there is anything I can do to support your family or community please contact us. 

All the Best,

Jennifer

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