Talking to Children

Tragically this morning, at least 20 young children and 7 adults were shot and killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and home of the alleged shooter in Newtown, CT. This is a very sad day for the families and community of Newtown as well as with the rest of the country. My heart goes out to these families.

And my concern also goes out to all of the children across the country who hear about what happened and start questioning “why,” “could this happen at my school,” “who can we trust,” etc. Parents and other that deal directly with young children may also be asking similar questions.

How do you answer these hard questions when violence occurs like this? What do tell your child or the children next door?

As a member of the Board of Directors, I have a connection with one woman who works directly with children. Her name is Nancy Baskett. She also serves as a member of the National NOW Board of Directors. Her main job is as a 4-H Extension Educator in Pierce County (Tacoma), Washington. After this tragedy this morning, she emailed out a help sheet entitled “Talking to Kids About Violence, Terrorism, and War.” I’m posting the link to this help sheet so that those of you who read this can use it and/or spread the information in case you have any children that are asking questions.

Highlights from this sheet include the following suggestions:

  • Listen to the kids and don’t overwhelm them with what you know
  • Ask them what they are worried about, what information they have and don’t have, and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings
  • Listen and listen some more
  • Model open discussion
  • Ask thoughtful, open-ended questions that can’t easily be answered with a yes or no
  • Ask clarifying questions about what the kid means since their ideas of violence may be very different from yours
  • Answer the questions they ask to the best of your ability.
  • Acknowledge their feelings and don’t deny or play down either the seriousness of the situation or the feelings they present
  • Help them to feel physically safe. This includes:
    • Maintaining normal routines and schedules
    • Stop them (or yourself) from stereotyping people from different backgrounds, cultures, or countries
  • Help kids maintain a sense of hope by helping them to take action when they feel the need to do so. This could be things they want to do like writing a letter or finding their own unique way to support their schoolmates or communities either locally OR in this case, providing support for the kids in Sandy Hook, CT.

There are many more suggestions on this help sheet. Please take the time to read and help others.

This is a sad day in the lives of everyone. Please take a moment to hug your family and friends. And listen.

One thought on “Talking to Children

  1. […] the many concerns raised by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.  My very first blog on this site was written the day of these […]


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