Sadly, deadly and devastating mass shootings continue to dominate the headlines. How can you share the news about gun violence with your kids?
Sandy Hook. Aurora. San Bernadino. Orlando. Las Vegas. Sutherland Springs. Parkland. Pittsburgh. Gilroy. El Paso. Dayton. At schools, movie theaters, bars, concerts, festivals, stores, churches.
Each time there’s a mass shooting—and it seems to be happening now more than ever—we find ourselves having trouble finding the words to explain to our children, yet again, why it happened, and why it continues to happen.
So how should you talk about gun violence to your child? We asked the experts to share their best insights.
Assure your child that you’re doing your best to keep them safe
Kids need to be reminded that you’re looking out for them. “Reassuring our children in these turbulent and violent times is a paramount question for parenting,” says Dr. John Mayer, a clinical psychologist at Doctor On Demand. “Say to your children: ‘We will never take you anywhere or put you in any place where there is danger. That is our primary job as parents, to protect you. We will always keep you safe.’ That fundamental message of safety is critical to make sure your children hear.”
Dr. Mayer says this message is just as important for older kids as it is for our youngest. “Older children need that reassurance just as often and vigorously as younger children,” he says. “So, age differences do not matter.”
Of course, the truth is we can’t guarantee their safety but Dr. Mayer says parents shouldn’t argue that point. “While we as adults may know that is true, bringing in these doubts is not a helpful opinion to convey” to kids, he says.