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Talking with Your Children about Tragic Events in the News

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Hello, friends. I am heartbroken at the thought that twice in less than a year, I am sending an email on how to help children talk about events such as the news coming out of Sandy Hook Elementary School this morning.  Sometimes it is impossibly hard to be the adult ... and yet, we are the adults who must teach our children and teens how to cope with and talk about such senseless, sorrowful and disturbing events. 


I've copied several resources at the end of this email that may be of use to you, and hopefully provide you with some comfort and guidance.  I think the most important thing for all of us to remember is, our children and to a large extent our teens as well will take their cues on how to respond from how we ourselves respond. For children, the adults in their world ARE their role models, their security, and their comfort. With that in mind, the key points are:


Respond to your child's questions with reassurance.

Keep the information you share simple and on the child's developmental level.

Turn the television off.

Take care of yourself.


Remind yourself and your family of the many positives in the world - the good things in this life help buffer us against the difficult times. Children do not have as many buffers as we adults do and it is imperative that we help them develop this essential skill against being overwhelmed by darkness and fear.


Should you or your children need to talk about this, or if you need any help from your church community, please remember that Steve, Nathan, and I are all available to you, just a phone call or an email away. 


In faith and light,



UU Trauma Response Team suggestions for families:


Helping Children Deal with Tragic Events in the News

What to do if the news upsets you (for children)

Talking with Children about Upsetting News Events (excellent developmentally appropriate suggestions)


If prayer would do it

I'd pray.

If reading esteemed thinkers would do it
I'd be halfway through the Patriarchs.

If discourse would do it
I'd be sitting with His Holiness
every moment he was free.

If contemplation would do it
I'd have translated the Periodic Table
to hermit poems, converting
matter to spirit.

If even fighting would do it
I'd already be a blackbelt.

If anything other than love could do it
I've done it already
and left the hardest for last.

~ Stephen Levin