16 Tips to Talking to a Child After a Tragedy

  • Reassure yourself and your child that an event like this impacts an entire nation. Regardless of where we are in the world we are affected by the events that have taken place.
  • Allow yourself and your child/children to be angry and question why horrible things like this happen in the world.
  • It is important to reassure your child/children of their safety, provide extra supervision, physical closeness and extra hugs. Let your child know that their family, teachers, police officers and fireman are here to help protect them.
  • Be patient and available to answer questions honestly and in an age appropriate manner. It is okay if you cannot answer certain questions due to a lack of information or comfort level. I don’t know is an acceptable answer! • Be honest about your feelings. Sharing your feelings and fears with your children gives them a sense of hope and validates their feelings.
  • Remain calm! Your ability to manage your fears and emotions will help your child manage their feelings and build healthy coping skills.
  • Take a break from the media exposure. Turn off the TV, radio, refrain from using Facebook and Twitter and limit adult conversation.
  • Think about a fun activity that you can do as a family to redirect their attention.
  • It is in everyone’s best interest to return to your normal routine while maintaining open and honest channels of communication with your children.
  •  Consider how this event might trigger recent deaths or other traumatic events in your life.
  • Remember that your child may need to revisit the event and ask the same question repeatedly in an effort to understand their emotions and process the event.
  •  Provide your child/children with a safe place to share their feelings, discuss nightmares they are having as a result of the tragedy and fears.
  • Be patient if your child begins to regress as this is normal.
  • Be mindful of the children’s developmental grief reactions. A preschool age child will understand death and trauma in very concrete terms in contrast to a teen that is beginning to problem solve and understand the event more abstractly.
  • Use religious and cultural resources for support.
  • Experiencing grief reactions are normal. Look for changes in eating and sleeping habits, unusual clinginess, avoidance of anything reminiscent of the event, emotional numbing, clumsiness, withdrawal, aggression, fatigue, and insomnia etc…
  • Ask about the emergency security protocol at your child’s school. Share these plans with your child/children to promote a sense of safety in their school.
  • The first step to helping your child is helping yourself. Get support for yourself and your children if you need it.​

We Can Help

Speak with the referral team by contacting us seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Any first visit and admission can be made the first day.

Northern Ohio's Hospice of Choice

More than 1,000 Hospice of the Western Reserve employees and 3,000 volunteers live and work side-by-side in the same neighborhoods with our patients and families. We are privileged to have cared for more than 100,000 Northern Ohioans since our inception.