Tragedy and Children

Tragedy in america

Americans see a tragedy surrounding our children and families every day. Many of these events are broadcast on television news or are constantly discussed on the Internet, forums or social networking sites. Auto deaths attributed to texting or other distractions, natural disasters that took the lives and homes of friends or relatives, or news about friends who decided to take their own life because they couldn’t cope with their circumstances.

Tragedy and Children
Tragedy and Children

We know friends who were raped, beaten and killed, and friends who overdosed at parties. We watched planes fly into buildings and witnessed victims jumping to their deaths. Online videos show us massive car wrecks and people being attacked by animals and humans alike. Americans know tragedy. Our children know the tragedy. But when tragedy strikes, how do we, as parents, teachers, counsellors, or simply friends, help those who witnessed or survived these traumatic events?


Young children, teenagers, and even adults may be disturbed by images and stories of people being hurt in the media or on television. Children can be anxious and fearful about the world around them. It’s important to keep an eye on your TV guide at the start of each week and be aware of what’s planned for your kids’ time.

Try to watch TV with your kids (especially during the News), listen to their questions and answer them honestly. Tragedies affect everyone, both children and adults. Children need to talk about their fears, frustrations, and disbelief. It is important that we be mindful of these feelings and encourage open discussion.

Children may worry:

The event may happen to himself or a loved one;
Being separated from a loved one or left alone;
About the safety of themselves or their loved ones.

Depending on their age and maturity level, children will perceive things differently than adults. With young children (up to the age of nine), remember not to be complicated in your explanations without going into gory details, especially if the tragedy is extremely unpleasant. Be supportive and reassuring during your discussion. Older children can process more information.

Tragedy and Children
Tragedy and Children

Discussion Techniques:

Be honest – Children need to understand what’s going on around them to feel safe. Provide them with the truth about what happened and acknowledge that it was a terrible and frightening event. Help them see that we share their feelings.

Encourage any questions – Make sure your child feels he can approach you to ask as many questions as he needs. Sometimes a child processes a tragic event much later and comes back to you for further discussion. Remind them that questions are welcome.

Emotions are normal – Some children may take a while to get over tragic events, and that’s perfectly normal. Let them cry and show their emotions if necessary. Help your children verbalize their feelings with you. Secure them with a warm hug and remind them that they are safe. Keep things in perspective and remind them that not all people are harmful to others.

Unfortunately, especially in the last few years, we have been subjected to countless mass murders that have disturbed and heartbreaking all of us. Images in the media and discussions around the world can be very worrying for our children. It is imperative that we recognize these events and explain what happened.

Tragedy and Children

Sometimes our children hear stories from others that may not be true, so it’s up to us to ensure they have the right perception.

When talking to children about tragedy, your choice of words really depends on the age of the children. In any case, you should still:

Make sure they feel safe – explain to them that what happened was a real misfortune and that we all feel for the people who were there or suffered.

Stay close and show love the way they want – hug them and reassure them that their world is safe. Keep them between familiar things, such as family and friends, until they feel more secure.

Tragedy and Children

Let the kids talk about it and how it makes them feel. Answer their questions honestly and try to put their mind at ease. Not talking about it may make them think it’s taboo.

Be wary of behavioral changes – children who behave differently, such as kids who don’t sleep at night, feel scared, don’t want their mom to go to work, want to start sleeping with you, may need a little more reassurance, time, and conversation. If it persists, it may be time to seek professional help.

For teens – talk to them, listen and ask questions. “

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