High profile acts of violence, particularly in schools, can make children anxious and frightened. Talking and guiding them on how to react can help them feel safe.

  • Reassure children they are safe
  • Make time to talk.
  • Keep explanations on the appropriate leve

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QUESTION: What tips do you have for talking with children about tragedies?

Preschool – Kindergarten: One sentence

With younger children, give a brief, simple information that’s balanced. Give simple examples of school safety likes doors being locked and emergency drills.

Upper elementary school children will ask more questions about if they are truly safe and if adults are there to protect them. They many need help separating reality from fantasy.

High school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools. They will have concrete suggestions on how to make schools safer and prevent tragedies.

Review safety procedures. Do this for both school and home. Help your children identify an adult at school they can go to if they feel threatened.

Watch their emotional state. Some children may not express their concerns verbally. Watch for changes in behavior, appetite and sleep patterns.

Limit online, tv exposure to these events. This is especially important for younger children.

Maintain a normal routine. Make sure children get lots of sleep, are eating healthy and get some exercise. Encourage them to keep up with homework but don’t push them if they feel overwhelmed.

Source: National Association of School Psychologists

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