How to Help Your Kids Deal with the Colorado Shooting Tragedy

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I can’t believe it; but I can believe it. A shooting in a crowded movie theater of children and adults. Innocents. Precious lives destroyed. I feel sadness and anger.

You may not want to talk to your school-age kids about this – and because school is out, that’s a more viable option than normally. However, if your children are around other kids, they will hear about the shooting at some point. It happened with Columbine and with 9/11. Kids talk.

That’s why I recommend you address the violence before your kids hear it from someone that isn’t you. Think about it, read this to get some ideas, and you’ll know what is right for your family. I wish you peace with whatever you decide.

(Oh, and if you do talk to your kids, ask them NOT talk to other kids about it. Tell them it’s a family decision and other kids may not know about it.)

How to Start / What to Say?

Fred Rogers says the most important thing children need to know is

1. They can talk about anything with you.

2. We will do everything to keep them safe.


3. Share your own feelings. Encourage your kids to share how they feel.

4. Listen.

5. Keep it truthful but appropriate for the child’s age.

Look for the Helpers

Rogers also says, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.

Turn Off the TV

Try not to obsess about the news. Limit how much television or internet news your kids are exposed to.

Draw or Write

I’ve found that kids can express themselves non-verbally more easily than verbally. Help your children write or draw about their feelings. Make cards for the families or the injured. Write prayers to God. Draw pictures of how you feel.

Helping Kids Deal with Tragedy and Grief – Links

* National Association for School Psychologists Handout

* 40 Books About Peace and Justice

* Rabbi Shmuley on Oprah’s radio show: “Children need to know, at an early age, that although there is suffering and death in the world, there is a lot more joy and health; that for every one evil person, there are a thousand very loving people.”

* Art Therapy Learned from 9/11

Drawing Your Feelings (art therapy activity)

* Red Cross – Safe and Well site to search for loved ones

* Children’s Colorado has posted a tips article about how to talk to your kids about the Aurora movie theater shooting. The hospital also has set up a Family Support line (720-777-2300) to help families who need advice or help finding additional resources. A behavioral health specialist will return their call within 24 hours.

A Hug to You and Your Kids

Sending you all a big hug. We will get through this together. Look for more information and ideas on my Facebook page.

~ Melissa

Attribution Some rights reserved by thisreidwrites

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  1. If your child is 5-years-old, do you wait for him/her to ask you questions or should you bring it up to them?

    1. I hope no 5 year old has to hear about this and then have questions. A five year old doesn’t have the ability to understand – heck, how can anyone understand! I hope you can shelter your child from this information but if not, answer questions and reassure your child that he/she is safe and loved.

  2. Endless gratittude to you, Melissa for addressing, so quickly, the most critical aspect of this issue. You provided a wonderful resource and I will spread this post, as I so often do. Compassion and blessings to all.