In The Wake Of Tragedy

My thoughts and prayers are with the school family at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut today. Children depend on us for security in general and even more so in a time like this; how do we as adults process the senseless tragedy that happened there this morning so that we can help our children navigate through it? Look to the experts for help. Start with these comprehensive suggestions about responding to trauma from the 

Limit your child's exposure to the news. 
Focus on the heroism of the helpers. 
Calmly reassure children that an event like this is not likely to happen to you or to them. 
Review your safety plan at home and at school. 
Embrace your loved ones so they know they're safe.
Pray for the families of the victims. 
Pray for peace.

Photo credit: Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher

Suggestions from Dr. Brad Schwall, reprinted with permission:

Tragedy Talking Points by Dr. Brad Schwall

The following guidelines may help you in addressing the school-shooting incident with your children based on the information currently known about the tragedy to this point.
  • Avoid exposing children to too much media coverage.
  • Avoid fostering rumors and speculation about the tragedy.  

Age and Stage Responses

Preschool-2nd grade – discuss the incident only if the child has heard any of the news. There is no need to inform the child of the tragedy if the child does not know about it.

3rd- 5th graders are more likely to have heard the news.  Decide whether to bring the issue up with 3rd and 4th graders based on their temperaments.

Check for what your child knows – Ask, “What have you heard today?"

You may choose to approach the subject with children in 6th grade and older.

No matter your child’s age, consider the following responses based on how you believe you need to address the tragedy with your child.
  • The tragedy is isolated and tragedies like this happen rarely.
  • The fact that this tragedy happened does not mean there is an immediate danger where you live.
  • Emphasize that safety precautions are in place in schools.
  • Reflect what your child may be feeling – “I know this is scary news. It is very sad.
  • Emphasize empathy for the victims – “It is very sad that this happened to those families and children.”
  • Teenagers may reflect on the fragile nature of life and the unpredictability of life.

The conversation may focus on:
  • Validating your child's feelings - it is OK to feel scared or sad
  • Emphasizing that your child is safe
  • Empathizing with the victims 
Michele Borba also offers advice at her blog {here}.


  1. Wonderful advice Barbara. The children you work with a very blessed.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    1. Thanks, Tammy. Children are such a blessing to me!

  2. Television is off at my house. Just Christmas lights are on. :)

    1. Yay - you go girl! Remember that we can't "unsee" or "unhear" stuff, so why overdose on those disturbing details?

  3. Great advice. As much as I would want more information, today is movie night in our home as it is every Friday night.

    1. Thanks, Mrs. Parker. I'm so glad to know that you continued with movie night. We've been watching the Hallmark Channel all weekend!

  4. Barbara, thank you for sharing your genuine heartfelt advice. I will share this with many others!

    1. I appreciate you stopping by the Corner, Deborah. The reflections on your blog were helpful, too.

  5. Thank you for all of the wonderful suggestions and the link to Dr. Borba as well, this will help guide our difficult conversations that will be shared on Monday. I love the idea of sending hugs to the other children of Newton,CT.

    1. Thanks, Michelle - I love the idea of hugs, too, especially for those siblings who've lost a brother or a sister. My heart continues to ache for those survivors!


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!

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