Coping with Violence or Tragedy

Helping your child cope with lossCoping with Violence, Tragedy and Loss

Talking to your children about tragedy

  • Be honest about your emotions, but be strong
  • Children will learn to cope and manage stress from seeing you cope
  • Limit your child’s media exposure
  • If you choose to let your child watch TV, as much as possible watch TV with your child so that you can have conversations about the tragedy
  • Listen to your children express their feelings
  • Be affectionate with your child
  • Calmly give factual info, or your child may speculate to fill in the gaps. Be age-appropriate with your explanations: give simple, brief explanations to young children, and more details to older children.
  • Be consistent -- stick to your normal routines as much as possible
  • Find a way for your family or classroom to put your fears into action: write a letter or send a creative care package to the students and families of the school

Helping allay your child’s fears

  • Be calm
  • Listen to your child’s concerns
  • Explain how schools and authorities have plans to keep them safe
  • Advise your child that we can’t let events keep us from living our lives, or defeating us
  • Tell your child that school is important

Don't expect these symptoms in most kids, but if they do occur, it may signal a need for special attention:

  • Irritability and loss of concentration
  • Uncharacteristic behavior problems
  • Somachaches, headaches, dizziness with no apparent cause
  • Withdrawal from friends and family; sadness, lethargy
  • Difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite or compulsive eating

Learn more about our mental health services.