Children react differently depending on their age and their development. Children who are more anxious by nature will likely be more affected by the event. The younger a child is, the more important it is to explain it in a clear and simple way with words that are familiar to him.
For example, in the case of a school shooting, something that is unfortunately all too frequent these days and which particularly touches a child’s world, explain that the person who committed the crime very likely had serious problems. Avoid using the typical descriptions that everyone uses to describe the person.
As much as possible, avoid letting your children see images on television or the internet that are broadcast around these events. All the images associated with these tragic events (crime scenes, families and others crying, photos of the person responsible for the tragedy) can leave their mark.
Some children might think that the tragedy is their fault. Make sure they understand that they are not to blame for what happened and that they had nothing to do with the tragedy.
Older children may ask more questions and it’s important to answer and discuss these with them. Their questions may include how could we have avoided the incident, why are there natural disasters, and what makes people so destructive. Always try to find positive examples that will help balance their perception of things.
Even if they want to discuss and understand more, it’s not necessary to go into details. Let your child ask questions and give him answers at a pace that’s comfortable for him.