Your Life: Talking to children about violence

Violence is something society must live with. Being prepared to talk to children about violence when it happens can help diminish their fear and confusion.
BY CHARLOTTE LANKARD clankard@opubco.com Modified: August 4, 2012 at 5:57 pm •  Published: August 6, 2012
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When we, as adults, cannot make sense of people being murdered in a movie theater, how are we to speak of it to children? If we feel fear and helplessness as the news reports bombard us, how can our children not feel overwhelmed?

Unfortunately it will likely happen again in some form. So rather than be caught unprepared, there are some things to keep in mind about talking to children when violence happens.

While these conversations may be difficult, they are extremely important, and the way we help is by listening and responding in an honest, consistent and supportive manner.

What we say to our children depends on their age and the questions they ask. It is important to tell the truth because children benefit from knowing they can rely on their parents to be honest; so keep it honest but limit details. Try to address just what the child is asking.

Let them know you understand what is happening is confusing and complicated and you're glad to be talking with them about it.

Feel free to answer “I don't know” to tough questions. If they wonder how God could allow this to happen, you may have to say, “I don't have an answer to that,” or “What do you think?”

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