Talking to Kids about the Tragic Events at Sandy Hook

How do we talk to our kids about the school shooting today in Connecticut?


I’m not sure where to start on this one. It is so fresh, so, horrible, so tragic, so senseless. Really there are just no words for such a thing. It’s hard to cope or understand our own adult feelings and worries so, how do you help your child cope and understand?

I am hurting for the parents far away and unknown to me. The worries and stresses I had for my day are so meaningless and trivial now. I can not imagine what they must all be going through. My thoughts are racing and my heart is aching. I am all at once sad, mad, worried, and so much more. Every time I even think about it I cry. All I can think is “What if ... ?”

My daughter saw my tears and asked, “Mommy, why you sad?”

She’s only (almost) 4 so she doesn’t and couldn’t possibly understand such things.

I simply told her, “Mommy’s sad because a bad man did a very mean thing today.”

She then said, “Oh no... It’s not nice to do mean things.”

To which all I could really say was, “Yes, you are absolutely right. It’s not nice to do mean things.”

She is a very sensitive little girl and I didn’t want to frighten her, so I left it at that.

We had a scary incident of our own a few months ago, which brought up a lot of safety talks with our family and friends.  But nothing that compares to the tragic events of today. So many families, friends, and neighbors are affected by the loss of all the people who were killed. Things like this affect all of us to some extent though. As parents we can’t help but think “What if ... ?”

I posted about this on our Campbell Patch - Mom Squad Facebook page, and here are some of the responses:

Mayra (Editor of Campbell Patch) said: “This is completely heart-wrenching. I have a first-grader and I'm not sure how or if I want to talk to him. These things are tricky. On the one hand, I want him to know what to do to stay safe but on the other, I don't want him to be afraid, to lose that innocence. I do know this; I am going to hug and kiss him more than I normally do because my heart goes out to all those little ones and their families that have been impacted by the events that occurred this morning. I will tell him that I love him and that I am lucky to have him in my life.”

Cara said: “I am devastated to hear this news, it is a terrible tragedy my prayers are with all the families effected.”

Sophia said: “My heart goes out to those poor children, families and teachers in the Connecticut school shooting. It is so scary and sad the things that people do these days. This is why I ALWAYS tell (my son) I love him when I take him to preschool. You never know what could happen and it could be the last thing your little one hears from you. I'm a "hoverer" parent and proud of it. The world is a scary place and I will always let my children know how much I love them and that mommy is always looking out for them. So heartbreaking”

Deb (Owner of Downtown Campbell’s Simply Smashing!) said: “My heart is broken”

Sushanta (of local small business, Zansus Purses) said: “Yes. I will be. He's 12 and I know he can handle it. In fact I always share about all the news you share on the happenings in the community. And yes, today I will be hugging him way more tightly than I always do. In fact I even texted him a "I love you" when he is in school! Couldn't help myself. My heart goes out to all those poor kids, their families and all those affected. This is a totally HORRENDOUS and mindless. I wonder what motivates someone to do something like this. So evil!!”

Thankfully, my kids are too young to know or understand the horrible events of this morning. But as I know, they will one day be older and will have to learn to deal with their feelings and worries over other things.

It’s important to remember that we are adults who have the ability to sort through our feelings. It can be more difficult for children and teens to process these thoughts and feelings though. Just like with everything else, they need the adults in their lives to help and guide them.

Will you be talking to your children about the tragic events of this morning? What do you plan on saying to them? If you have already done so, how did they respond? Do you have any advice for those of us that are struggling with what to say or what to do from here?

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