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How to Talk to Your Kids About Tragedy – Tough but Necessary Parenting Conversations

Parents, lets chat about how to talk to your kids about tragedy.

Today this happened. The Sandy Hook shooting is something that as a parent and human, I just can’t wrap my head around it. The evil and sadness is just to overwhelming to comprehend.

how talk to kids about tragedy

If me, a 34-year old adult can’t grasp the reality of this, how is a young child suppose to wrap their head around such tragedy?

How to Talk to Your Kids About a Tragedy

Our TVs are not on right now. The coverage is non-stop on the local and news channels and I just don’t want my kids to hear about this.

A few years ago, our daughter was watching TV innocently with a relative and news coverage of the tsunami was on. She PANICKED. While we lived no where near water, she was afraid of the lakes.

It was tragic and hated that she feared while we were nowhere near harm’s way.  With something as tragic as a school shooting, it’s hard to think how to go about talking to my kids about tragedy but you know what – it is important and necessary.

Here are a few tips for talking to your child about a tragedy. Whether its something as awful as a school shooting, divorce or death of a loved one – here are a few suggestions that I hope with help.

Age Appropriate Conversations

Know that how you talk to a 3 year old will be different than how you talk to a teenager. Make sure that the topic and words used (as well as detail) are age appropriate.

Only Necessary Details

Speaking of details, only share what is necessary.

Keep an Open Line of Communication

Make sure that your kids know that they can talk to you. Keep an open line of communication. Check in with your kids, make sure that you are open to questions.

If you can’t answer their questions, tell them that. Honesty and openness are key for communicating with kids about tragedy.

Get Help if Needed

If the topic is too hard for you to talk to your kids about, or if your child is having a hard time with the situation, get help.


Find a therapist or wise counsel that can help you and your child address any tragedy or situation that has an emotional impact, especially if personal.

Words of Wisdom From Fred Rogers

I came across this quote today from the wonderful Mr. Rogers. Leave it to him to provide insightful advice. 

While us adults immediately focus on the tragedy and loss of today’s events. Children just can’t comprehend that.

Mr. Rogers Tragedy Quote

Here is the quote from Mr. Rogers tragedy quote that I thought was so wise and perfect for this time.

To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world.  mr rogers tragedy quote
Fred Rogers Tragedy Quote

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world. – Mr. Rogers

Hug Your Child

Everyday hug your child. Talk to your kids when there are good things and bad. How we communicate with our kids about tragedy is how they will deal with tragic situations throughout their lives.

Help them understand that they are loved, and that communication is vital.

Talking to your kids about tragedy is hard, but necessary.

Read more from Digital Mom Blog on Parenting