Tragedy In Connecticut: How To Talk To Your Kids


sad daughter leaning on mother's shoulder
Reverend Christopher Smith offers advice about what to tell your children.

4. Be honest. The fourth thing is to be honest with your children. If they have questions, answer them honestly in a way that is appropriate for their age. Do not give more information than you need to provide. Use your child's questions as a chance to continue to reassuring him/her of his/her safety. For example, if your child asks if a child their age was killed, in addition to honestly answering, you can reaffirm their own safety.

5. Spend time together. The fifth thing is to spend time with your child. Feeling connected to you is a way to help a child. Spending time with you can be reassuring for your child. You are a source of safety and security for your children, especially little ones. If you're in the habit of reading a story at bedtime, make the extra effort to read a story for the next several nights. Maintain consistency.


6. Use your faith. The sixth thing is to use the season and your faith tradition to help you address the situation. For example, if you are Jewish, continue to observe Chanukah, acknowledging the way God provided light, miracles and wonders and that these are still promised. Similarly, if you are Christian, reflect on the messages of Advent (hope, peace, love and joy) and how these messages are still true for your family. You can also pray for those who were affected by the tragedy, asking for God to be with those who are in that different place as they hurt and grieve.

7. Take care of yourself. Finally, make sure you take care of yourself and how you are being affected by this. Think about who you can reach out to. Draw upon your own spirituality as you work with your child(ren).

It is possible that some children will not be affected by what took place today in Connecticut. That's okay too. As you focus on helping your child(ren) through their responses to the tragedy, you can help them to not be terrorized in the aftermath. Help is out there that will allow you to ensure that you and your children can return to wholeness and peace.

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The Rev. Christopher L. Smith

Marriage and Family Therapist

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LCAC, LMHC, LMFT has served as a national leader around mental health issues both within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in professional counseling organizations.  He works directly with individuals, couples, families and supervisees as the Clinical Director of Seeking Shalom in New York City.  He also brings his insight to help a wider audience through writing, speaking and consultations.

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: LAC, LMFT, LMHC, MDiv
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Forgiveness, Spiritual
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