What to Tell Your Children When Tragedy Strikes

Child Behavioral Specialist explains how to bring light to a devastating situation

FARGO, ND — With this latest terror attack targeting a pop concert, it raises concerns of how parents can talk with their children about tragedies like this.

In the days following a tragedy, kids may have a question or two whether something like this could happen to them.

There are a few ways you can talk to your children in order to lessen their anxiety and stop them from being afraid.

“Well, I think that each parent has to find that balance with their child,” said Rachel Fleissner, who is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Sanford Health. “One of the most important things is to remember the age and the development of your child that you’re speaking to.”

This also includes keeping an eye out for what’s being shown on your television.

That one newscast you always catch right before their bedtime, maybe think about putting it on pause until your child leaves the room.

“Monitoring the media that your child is watching,” added Fleissner. “It’s hard at different ages to understand from watching media, ‘well is this happening in my neighborhood’ or ‘is this happening in my country’?”

With upcoming concerts this summer right here in town, parents might want to have a talk with their children about how they feel about still going.

“Bruno Mars is a big one and they may ask a question, ‘Well mommy if I go to that concert with you is it going to be safe’?” said Fleissner.

“I think the easy thing to do is just want to hug your kids and keep them close and not let them do anything or out of your sight,” said Erica Jost of Fargo.

However, as a nation, we want to instill in our children that no matter the hardship, it’s better to rise above.

“We want to be able to live our lives and to have peace with the higher power,” she added.

Also, to remind them there’s always positives in a negative situation.

“The stories we’re hearing coming out of Manchester about other people taking families into their homes and the taxi drivers taking people wherever they needed to go for free,” said Fleissner. “There is always more good than there is bad.”

Experts say it’s normal for parents to not always know the answer after a devastating event, but they stress finding joy in sorrow can always be the first step.

If you need to reach out for help in talking with your children, here are just a few of the local agencies willing to help.

The Village Family Service Center

Sanford Health

Prairie St. Johns

Essentia Health

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