After the terrible shooting on Sunday, October 2nd, that took place in Las Vegas killing 59 and injuring more that 500 people, parents are left wondering what to say to their children about the Las Vegas shooting. Let’s acknowledge that it’s becoming less rare to wake up to bad news lately- hurricanes, earthquakes and this senseless shooting makes us wonder when the loss of life and destruction is going to end. I get that. Our children are starting to get hear bits and pieces about these tragedies and those who haven’t will likely hear about them in time. So what do we do or say when tragedy strikes?
- I was interviewed for Morning Dose TV on this topic yesterday- right here.
- Since I wrote something that is fitting when the Barcelona shooting happened– giving both tips and scripts, I’d like to give that to you now, again.
- On my podcast, Joe Primo and I discussed How to Talk to Kids about Death & Dying if answers around grieving and death are in need.
And just a few quick words on talking to kids when tragedy strikes:
- Be the first source– let them hear it from you. News sources are abrupt and made for adult audiences- you know best how to talk to your kids. Tell them; “I am here to answer your questions, there is nothing you can’t ask me. I may not know all the answers but I will find out what I don’t know so I can put your fears to rest.” As children get older you can ask, what do you know about this? How do you feel about this? To open up the conversation.
- Let them know about the helpers who are working to keep everyone safe and assure them that the man responsible for the deadly act is unable to hurt anyone anymore because he is dead. Tell them; “those in law enforcement and the medical community are doing everything they can to keep us safe and take care of anyone who was hurt. Do you know how Aunt Karen takes care of people in the hospital since she’s a nurse? That’s what the people out there are doing too. Lots of people are helping.”
- Allow them to be the helpers too– ask, how can we help someone who is suffering today? How might we help the kids who are dealing with these strategies. Something therapeutic for anyone of any age is drawing pictures and writing letters to those in Las Vegas who are suffering. They can write thank you notes to law enforcement and medical staff or raise money for a charity. As an adult, you can give blood and talk to your children about why you are doing it.
Children’s biggest and most pressing questions are likely: Am I safe? Are you safe? Talk about the ways that you keep your children and yourself safe each day from taking driving the car safely and wearing seat belts to looking both ways before crossing the street and staying in a group or having a buddy when you are outside alone. But also talk about how these incidents are rare- and that there are many people who are working very hard to ensure that we are safe even when we are sleeping. Who are these people? You can brainstorm. Police officers, fire fighters, soldiers and more. Even at school, the principal and teachers are working to keep you safe- and brainstorm those as well. Solutions do wonders to calm the nerves.
As children get older, it will be less about you answering questions and more about listening to their fears and how they are interpreting the situations. What do they think the solutions might be? What are their safety provisions when they go out? You might talk about having a buddy, taking the safe way home, knowing the exit route in a big venue and being in touch with accessible adults when away from the home.
Of course, conversations are key.
Thinking of you all as we all heal from the latest blow to friends, loved ones and community members.