How can I help my child deal with tragic events in the news?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
As a parent, I can understand the urge to shield our children from the effects of the real world. However, because we live in an information-driven society, it’s impossible to shield them from all bad news, as many kids get their information from outside the home. Here are some tips from the  NYU Child Study Center for helping your child process information about tragic events and feel safe:
  • Limit your children’s exposure to television coverage. Repeated exposure to the same event can worsen the stress -- especially for children. When talking about the tragedy to other adults, be cognizant of children who may be listening. Try to be present when older children are watching news coverage so you can listen to their reactions and concerns.
  • Maintain your usual routine, as familiarity brings comfort and helps children feel safe and in control. Keep mealtimes and bedtimes consistent, and explain any needed changes to any routines. You may want to drive them to school instead of letting them walk or spend more time at home with them. That’s okay, as long as those modifications are appropriate for you and your children.
  • If your child asks questions about the event, try to be confident about your thoughts regarding the tragedy, and above all, be honest and try not to hide information. Hiding information causes children to be mistrustful rather than comforted.
  • Model appropriate coping behavior. Remember that you must find a way to process the tragedy for yourself as well. You should acknowledge upsetting feelings without minimizing them, but also discuss ways to manage concerns. Provide an environment for ongoing conversations; talking about being afraid doesn’t make a person more afraid.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.