When a national tragedy occurs it’s important you talk to your children about what has happened so they don’t hear the news from other sources. There are ways you can reassure and help your child cope with any feelings they might have.

Children take their cue from adults about how to act when given serious information. Make sure you have your emotions in control before you talk to your children. It’s ok to show that adults can be sad and upset. But make sure you’re able to speak clearly and act calmly.

Minimize access to TV and the Internet where they might experience an overwhelming load of scary information that their young minds can’t process.

Let your child know it’s ok to talk about their feelings. The world can be a confusing and scary place, even for adults. But children can become very confused and it’s important to help them put things into perspective.

Make the time to talk, even to you’re very young children. Adjust your conversation according to the age. This might mean letting your child draw or act out imaginative play while you have your conversation. Let them know you are always available to talk.

For early elementary school children keep all the information brief and consistently reassure them that their school and home are safe. Remind them of all the things they practice in school for safety, like fire drills.

For upper elementary and early middle school students they might develop more and more questions as the day’s progress and they hear more information.  These children are transitioning from a world based on fantasy to one with more reality. This can make it hard for them to separate truth from their fears. It’s your job to help them do that.

High school students might be reluctant to talk at all to you but consistently remind them that you’re available anytime. They also have probably developed their own thoughts about violence and society and might want to share those thoughts. Give them ways to help keep their home and school safe, like not letting in strangers, it’ll let them feel like they’re contributing to a solution.

Have your kids identify an adult in their school that they feel they can go to if they feel unsafe. This can help them feel like they have an anchor outside of home.

Watch your child’s emotions and notice any changes in appetite or sleep patterns. These could be signs that their anxiety levels are at high levels. If you’re concerned don’t hesitate to seek a mental health professional to help your child work through their feelings.

Keep your routine normal, children rely on having a regular schedule and it helps them feel like their world isn’t chaotic.

It’s crucial we help our children work through their feelings as we work through our own.