How to talk to your child about a traumatic event like a school shooting

If your child is a witness to a school shooting or knows someone who was, it might be time to address the issue and talk about the trauma.

>>Read: What are the worst school shootings in modern US history?

Some children express their emotions when confronted with a stressful situation and others don’t. Parents should be prepared to talk and, most importantly, listen to their children.

Here are some tips from the American Psychological Association and other resources for dealing with children and trauma:

  • Think about what you want to say. Some advanced planing may make the discussion easier.
  • Find out what they know. For example, there was a shooting at a school or a bomb set off in another country. Ask them "What have you heard about this?" And then listen.
  • Tell the truth. Lay out the facts at a level they can understand. You do not need to give graphic details.
  • Sometimes the answer to the question is "I don't know. "Why did the bad people do this?" "I don't know."
  • Tell them that their homes are safe. If you are close to the tragedy, explain what is being done in the home and community.
  • Reassure them that these tragedies are rare events.
  • When coverage dominates the news, encourage turning off the TV or computers to keep children from seeing or hearing too much about the event.
  • Above all, reassure. At the end of the conversation, reassure your children that you will work to keep them safe and to watch out for them. Be available to answer any questions or talk about this topic again in the future. Reassure them that they are loved.