What to Say When Tragedy Strikes

Well-being icon

Our team at SRI Education is deeply saddened and concerned about the wars, violence, and climate destruction sweeping the world. Adults and children may be grappling with feelings of fear, worry, anxiety, anger, and confusion in response to what they are seeing and hearing in the news and social media about displaced families and loss of life. While children may be looking to their parents and educators for guidance about how to make sense of things, adults may be unsure of what to say. Psychologists and child development experts have sound advice about how to have these difficult conversations to ease children’s uncertainty and build coping skills. For example, common recommendations include:

Dialog icon Asking children what they know and how they are feeling to uncover misconceptions that you can help address.
Context icon Providing context to put the event in perspective, such as showing a map where wars are taking place in relation to where the child lives.
Monitor icon Monitoring and limiting children’s exposure to social media and news coverage that may contain graphic images.
Helper icon Pointing out the helpers, that is, the people who are working to support those affected by the wars and displacement and to end the conflict.
Give back icon Supporting children to take positive action, such as by collecting donations, writing to elected officials, or attending a peaceful rally or protest.
Heart icon Reassuring children they are safe and loved.

Below are some resources to help start and navigate these discussions with children when they see and hear about scary events in the news:

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