5 Tips to Help Children Handle Tragic News

Raising Children: Love, Limits & Lessons

20 Little Christmas Angels from Newtown, CT Were Welcomed into Heaven

If you are looking for a place to be alone with your sorrow, Williamsburg Angel Park welcomes you (tucked behind the Williamsburg Grange off of Route 9). It is a central place that can be use to gather with a small group or to spend time alone. There are benches and a flat stone wall for sitting too. Thank you to Donna Baldwin for this suggestion. – To find out about other gathering opportunities for parents/adults to share in this loss, check out this post on Hilltown Families Facebook Page for announcements. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Tragedy happens all around us, but when it involves innocent children there are few words that can express the pain any caring person feels. This week, a shooter took the lives of 20 innocent school children including several teachers and staff members at a small town school in Connecticut. That means Heaven accepted 20 new little angels this morning. If your own children haven’t heard about it, they most likely will. Here are some tips on how to help your children handle the news of this unthinkable tragedy.

  1. First and foremost it’s important that you settle any fears your children may have. They are torn between the worlds of fantasy and reality, so it may be very difficult for them to tell the difference between what is real and what isn’t. Make every effort to listen to them carefully and with 100% of your attention. It is important that you help them feel safe and calm. Sometimes they may fear that what happened to the children at this school will happen to them.
  2. Minimize (if not eliminate) any news coverage or discussion about the tragedy. The less they hear about it the better it will be for them. Refrain from having the news on when they are present at home or in the car while you’re driving. Too much exposure will overwhelm them and generate more fearful feelings that it could come to their school.
  3. Allow yourself to grieve privately. Your children look to you and your feelings as a guide on how they should feel. If you are feeling sad about this event and they notice, your children will feel sadder. Allow yourself to grieve in private, away from your children. Allow a friend or family member to stay with your children while you find the time to be alone to let your feelings out about this tragedy. Avoid keeping it all bottled up inside.
  4. Take measures to pull your family closer together over the next few days. Cancel less important activities and create family time to help your child feel more loved. Take measures to feel gratitude that this did not happen to your family and hold and love your children a little more than usual. It will help to further settle your child’s fears and help you deal with the sadness we are all feeling about this tragic event.
  5. Finally, use this occurrence to be sure that you are taking all possible measures to ensure your child’s safety where ever she goes. It is doubtful that the families who lost children in this massacre could have done anything different to avoid what happened. But tragedies come in all forms so take a closer look at all possible risks that could affect your child’s safety and well being.


Bill Corbett

Bill is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show Creating Cooperative Kids. He is a Western Mass native and grew up in the Northampton area. As a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse, the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and the management team of the Springfield Parent Academy. Bill’s practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a stepdad to three, and resides in the area with his loving wife Elizabeth and teen step daughter Olivia.  You can learn more about Bill and his work at www.CooperativeKids.com.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: