How to Ease Your Child's Fear in Times of Tragedy

Reassure your children that, as their parent, their safety is the most important thing.

Reassure your children that, as their parent, their safety is the most important thing.

As news details emerge across the country about the Connecticut school shooting, parents may face questions and fears from their children. Paul Douthit, Ph.D., Texas Tech Physicians Pediatrics, said there are key factors to help children.

  • Speak to the child in an appropriate way for their development. If a child asks a question, answer the question for their age level, not with more details that may bring up other issues.
  • If your child has questions, reassure them that as their parent, their safety is the most important thing. Remind them you are there to protect them.
  • Adults be careful not to make knee-jerk reactions to the situation. Do not rant about gun control or other recent shootings. This will frighten your child and raise more questions about feeling safe.
  • Notice any changes in your child. If your child normally is talkative and suddenly is quiet, you may need to speak to them to address any issues that may be of concern. Remind them you are there for them and care for them to the fullest extent.
  • Have frank discussions with your children and answer their questions as calmly as possible.

“Children’s perceptions may be different than adults,” Douthit said. “Make sure it is their fear and not yours before you speak to them. As parents, our verbal and non-verbal communication can help children dealing with concerns. If you are visibly upset, your child will pick up on this. Be aware how your behavior can affect your child as well.”

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