Talking with Children about Violence

    • Prepare yourself for emotionality. This means emotionality within yourself and with others with whom you speak regarding this topic/incident.
    • Provide accurate information at a developmentally appropriate level.
    • Take care in describing the perpetrator. This means care in not glamorizing the person, stereotyping, or making assumptions.
    • Emphasize helpers and safe adults (ex. first responders, school staff, and therapists).
    • Assure the child that it is ok to talk about sad or scary events.
    • Schools are safe places.
    • Reassure children that they are safe.
    • Make sure students have and know that there are adults to talk to about concerns/needs.
    • Make sure there is plenty of time to talk. Often children need to tell and retell stories and perceptions.
    • Teach and review safety practices.
    • Limit time spent on news and social media sites discussing the incident and conversations resulting from the incident.
    • Keep normal routines and structure.
    • Help students understand that there is a difference between reporting versus tattling or gossiping.
    • Eat healthy food. Often individuals will stop eating or eat high sugar and carbohydrate diets in times of stress/trauma.
    • Encourage positive physical health activity.
    • Help with positive sleep behaviors, patterns, and amount.
    • Be clear about your stand/belief that violence is not acceptable.
    • Teach positive coping skills.
    • Be aware of your own reactive behavior to conflict (sleep, eating, verbal, non-verbal and emotions).
    • Be patient with others and yourself.
    • It is ok to admit that you do not know or have all the answers.
    • Ask the child their ideas on how to help.
    • When appropriate, physical comfort can help provide inner security. This may include a hug, “high five,” a soft stuffed animal, or comfort blanket/object.
    • Offer non-verbal alternatives to express emotions, fears, and/or concerns. This could include coloring, books, clay, or other manipulatives.
    • Focus on the future and safety.