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Talking to Your Child about Gun Violence in the Wake of the Orlando Shooting

Submitted by on June 15, 2016 – 9:07 AMNo Comment
Talking to Your Child about Gun Violence in the Wake of the Orlando Shooting

The recent events at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida have sparked questions and concerns, both in Florida and around the world. Although parents do their best to shield their children from hatred and violence, chances are good that your child has seen the news and has some questions of his or her own. According to child development experts, it’s best to answer these questions quickly and truthfully.

Talking to Your Preschooler

Talking to preschool children about gun violence is never an easy task. Your preschool-aged child may have matter-of-fact questions, or he might be incredibly saddened by the events. Child development experts say that this is the only age at which you might want to avoid things somewhat since kids this age confuse facts with fears. Don’t offer any information, and if your child has questions, do your best to answer them in an age-appropriate manner that won’t cause any additional fear.

Discussing Gun Violence with Elementary School-Aged Students

When it comes to discussing the Orlando shooting or other similar events with elementary school-aged children, experts say it’s best to let your children take the reins in this case. If your child knows what happened – either from watching the news, reading a newspaper, or hearing about it in school – you’ll need to focus more on your child’s well-being. Avoid using frightening words or providing scary statistics, such as the number of people who died. Instead, focus on age-appropriate facts to help comfort children of this age.

Talking about the Orlando Shooting with Your Middle Schooler

Middle schoolers have a firmer understanding of gun violence and acts of terrorism than younger children, but this doesn’t mean that you should make assumptions about how your child feels. She may be deeply saddened by the news, but she may also feel a great deal of anger. Kids this age see things in black and white (the good guys versus the bad guys), so be reassuring and let them know that people are working hard every day to keep your family safe. Don’t offer too many details, but provide them if your child asks.

Having a Conversation with Your High Schooler

High school kids probably know more about the Orlando shooting incident than younger kids because they have access to social media. What’s more, many high schoolers take the time to watch the news or read the newspaper each day. Your teenage child may not want to discuss the matter much, and this is perfectly normal. However, if your child seems upset and wants to talk, it’s a great time to discuss terrorism, gun violence, and his or her take on the situation at hand. Sometimes, simply talking about things is enough to help kids feel better.

Talking to your kids about gun violence in the wake of the Orlando shooting isn’t easy, especially since the incident hits so close to home. However, as long as you are reassuring and provide information in an age-appropriate manner, you can help your child overcome his or her anxiety and fears.


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