Talking to Children and Teens about Difficult Situations, Tragedies and News Events

January 06, 2021

During times of crisis, children can have big feelings in response to the information they are seeing and hearing around them. Normalizing these feelings and assuring children that ALL feelings are okay will help to manage unexpected and challenging emotions. Focusing on ways to normalize reactions and find ways to de-stress and decompress as a family can be very helpful.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified the presence of safe, stable, and nurturing adults as the most important protective factor for children and young people in the face of stress and adversity. Pediatric Psychologists from the Center for Childhood Resilience at Lurie Children’s offer tips to help support your child and/or teen in the face of difficult situations, tragedies and news events:

  • Take time to talk to your child or teen with age appropriate information.
  • Share the facts. Answer questions as best as your child can understand. Don’t overshare. You know your child best.
  • Comfort and reassure them that you and other adults are working together to keep them safe.
  • Encourage them to share what they are feeling so you can help them sort through difficult feelings. Look for opportunities to correct any false information, magical thinking or self-blame.
  • Limit the amount of news coverage they see including time spent on social media and ask them what they are seeing/hearing and if they have questions.
  • Be mindful of your conversations with other adults -look for private space away from curious ears.
  • Be sure you are managing your own stress and anxiety (“Put on your own oxygen mask first so you can continue to help others!”).

For more information, visit www.childhoodresilience.org