Talking to Your Kids About Tragic Events

*The blog post below was written in advance, but is timely considering yesterday's school shooting in Florida. This hits so close to home for so many of us with school aged children, or loved ones - it's hard to know what to say and how to say it. If you're directly impacted by a huge trauma or stressor, or notice a huge change to your stress levels or sleep, be sure to reach out to a doctor, counselor or therapist.

There are always scary things happening in the world - some very close to home, and some very far away. 

Children are often aware of these scary things on some level, so it's important to talk to them, be it about terrorism, natural disasters, protests, violence, or even fears about nuclear actions.

Keep their age in mind.

When you talk about scary, overwhelming things in the world, it's very important that you keep your child's developmental age in mind. What you tell your five year old is different than what you can discuss with your fifteen year old. 

Stick to what's known.

Keep information factual (i.e. This is what happened, this is what the police know so far) and avoid projecting your own fears onto it (i.e. This is what happened, which must mean that all these other things will happen, too). 

Normalize their feelings.

However, it is important to let your kid know it's ok to feel sad, scared, mad, etc. after these events. Sharing your own feelings (without putting the burden of making you feel ok onto your kids) helps normalize them. It makes it more likely that your child will process their own feelings with you, rather than keep them stuffed inside.  

Kelsey specializes in childhood anxiety and stress. She provides child counseling and child therapy in St. Louis, working with kids from age 4 on up. Her office, Compassionate Counseling St. Louis, is located in Webster Groves, MO. She helps kids and teens build anxiety tools. You can reach her at