How to Explain Mass Shootings to Kids
We want to protect our little ones - nieces, nephews, sons, daughters and the kids you nanny for. But how? There are several ways to describe the news to our little ones while still making them feel safe.
There's a big difference between hearing about a tragic event from a parent or trusted caregiver and hearing about it from peers at school. The story is told in a completely different way.
If you care for a child in any way, the news of the mass shooting in Las Vegas will soon become part of their life. Over 50 people were killed and over 500 injured making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Do you talk about it at home? Do you allow teachers and educators to be the ones to explain this horrific act?
There are several resources available on how to talk to young ones about mass shootings. Remember, teachers throughout the Treasure Valley and entire country, really, woke up to the same news as we did.
Pre-planning is key, here.
Determine Whether or Not It's Necessary
Experts say to evaluate whether or not your kids are going to be exposed to the news of tragedy. Dr. Gilboa, author and family practice doctor says that telling children younger than 8 years old is not advised - if the children aren't likely to find out about them otherwise.
Let the Kids Lead and Find the Hero
If they will hear of the news, let the kids lead the conversation. Start off by asking what they've heard and then answering any questions they have with factual information. Stay calm in your attitude when responding and assure the child they are safe. Look for acts of heroism and ways to make a positive impact. This can be the positive turn to what's happening that many parents and caregivers tend to lean toward.
Approach the Subject Based on Age of Child
There's a way to have this tough conversation with kids of all ages - based on their age according to the American Psychiatric Association.
- Preschool through Kindergarten: Tell the story in one sentence. Confirm the child's safety and recognize heroes in the situation.
- Elementary School: Decide what you want to tell your kids and do your very best to keep them away from video and images. You can talk to your elementary school aged children all day long and those words won't compare to the impact an image or video will have on them. If your kids have already seen footage, be prepared to show them a positive view of what's happening to counteract what they've seen. In some cases, this can be the most difficult thing to do so be prepared.
- Tweens: You can bring the subject up to them and then ask how they're feeling about it. This is an opportunity to get an idea of how they are processing it, what their feelings are and how they are dealing with the news. If they haven't heard about it, yet, it's a chance for the two of you (or the family) to approach it in a way where you can set the mood and open the door to sharing feelings.
- Teens: Talk to teenagers, listen to them and also have resources or even a little guidance for them to take action. How can they help? What can they do to create change? Where do they fit into all of this? Give them a way to "fix" it.
What message are you sharing with our little ones - the future of our country?