How to Talk to Your Kids About a Tragedy

By 965koit on July 29, 2019

The Gilroy Garlic Festival has hit me hard. I don’t know if it’s because it’s so close to home or it’s because I’m a parent now.

It has me thinking about how I’m going to talk to Lilly about these things when she gets older. I hope I don’t have to, but it’s better to be informed.

Here are some recommendations from experts at

Talking to Very Young Children:

Children as young as 4 years old will hear about major crisis events. Even the youngest child needs accurate information, but you don’t want to be too vague. Simply saying, “Something happened in a faraway town and some people got hurt,” might not work. The child may not understand why this is so different from any other day. The underlying message for a parent to convey is, “It’s okay if these things bother you. We are here to support each other.”

Talking to Gradeschool Children & Teens:

After asking your child what they have heard and if they have questions about what occurred, a parent can say something such as: Assure them that the police and the government are doing their jobs so they can try to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.” A parent can follow-up as needed based on the child’s reactions and questions.

Talking to Children with Developmental Delays or Disabilities:

Parents who have a child with a developmental delay or disability should gear their responses to their child’s developmental level or abilities, rather than their physical, age. If you have a child on the Autism spectrum understand how they want to be comforted. Some don’t find comfort in cuddling.

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