Troubling Times

Age-appropriate ways to respond to children’ tough questions.

Children can ask some tough questions. They may also ask the same question several times—by asking questions, they’re letting you know they trust you. 

Print and read this sheet with ideas on how to respond to tough questions. (Of course, you know your children best, so naturally you’ll want to adjust what you say, especially depending on children’s ages.) Consider talking to other adults about how they’ve explained the issues to their children, and to share your concerns and ideas. 

Young children tend to confuse facts with fears, so don’t give them more details than they ask for. Avoid sharing details such as the exact number of people who died or if the violence was coordinated, and try not to be too dramatic. If you’re very upset and they notice, reassure them that you’re sad about the news too, but that you’ll be fine, you’ll still be there to take care of them, and that you have a plan to protect your family. 

If the violence happened in a school, avoid sharing any of your own concerns. Describe how grown-ups in schools have safety rules such as keeping the front doors locked, having visitors identify themselves and sign in, posting cameras at entrances, and so on.