Top Things You Need to Know to Talk to Your Kids about Tragedy & Trauma
Diana Trasatti, M.Phil.Ed., M.S.Ed., is a Master’s-Level Clinician and Behavioral Health Navigator at Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital, a full-time school counselor with the Gloucester Township School District, and a volunteer with Moms Demand Action, a national organization that works with survivors of gun violence.
To help parents better understand how to discuss local and national tragedies – including gun violence – with their children, Diana recently shared her “top things” to know:
- I encourage parents to ask their child questions about what they have heard regarding local and national tragedies. A lot of times, rumors and misinformation spread to kids. It is best to gently correct any misinformation children may have heard so they can understand what really happened.
- I tell parents to be available and open when answering questions children might have about tragedies/unsettling news stories. Research has shown it is important to stay away from stereotyping/categorizing those who carry out attacks. In some situations, stereotyping has been found to make a child’s fears worse, not ease them.
- It can be very useful to take a social media and TV break. We are constantly bombarded by news, especially when a national tragedy occurs. News coverage can be re-traumatizing, so it’s important to unplug and limit the amount of news your child receives through TV and social media. I recommend parents tape the news, watch it, and then re-watch with their middle school or high school-aged child so they can answer questions and have an open discussion about current events.
- Look out for behavioral changes in your child, and don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Jefferson Health offers many programs you and your child can benefit from. There is no “one size fits all” when dealing with tragedy and trauma. It’s important to seek mental health counseling for your child if you feel they might benefit from it.