The tragic movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado this past Friday has touched the entire nation. Media reports about how the events unfolded and the aftermath faced by the victims has brought the pain felt by the residents of Aurora to every town across the country. But while a senseless act like this is difficult for adults to comprehend, it’s even more confusing and alarming to children.
In order to make this tragedy less anxiety-inducing for young children, here are some tips from Anya Bebe, a child therapist and parent coach, on how to tell them about the Colorado shooting and other tragedies.
- Inform them yourself. Tell them before they hear from the TV, news, or friends, so they’re not caught by surprise.
- Tell them the end of the story first. Before telling them details of the event which may cause fear and anxiety, assure them that they and their loved ones are safe.
- Don’t dwell on the location of the event. If the event took place far from where you live, it’s a good idea to let your child know that it took place somewhere that isn’t nearby. If you do live close to the events, try not to harp on that fact and just focus on easing their fears.
- Assure them that events like this are very rare. While you can’t explain why people carry out violent acts, you can impart to your child the fact that tragedies like the one in Colorado are very rare and they need not fear it happening to them.
If you’re worried that your child is having trouble coping with the news of the tragedy in Colorado – he may seem withdrawn, anxious, or fearful – you may want to see your pediatrician for an evaluation and referral to a child therapist near you.