• July/August 2018
  • Vol. 19, No. 6

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Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers

It can be difficult to talk to children about violence—especially about violent events that happen at schools. Children may become confused about what has happened, frightened, or worried that they and their friends are at risk. Often, children will turn to parents, teachers, and other school personnel for guidance. The National Association of School Psychologists created a tip sheet and infographic to help parents and educators learn how to talk to children about violence. The resource offers the following suggestions:

  • Reassure children that they are safe—Assure children that schools are safe yet validate their feelings and listen to their concerns.
  • Make time to talk—Children do not always talk about their concerns readily. Be patient with children and let their questions guide any explanations.
  • Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate—Make sure explanations are appropriate for the age and maturity level of the child.
  • Review safety procedures—Make sure the child can identify a trusted adult they can turn to at home and at school should an emergency arise.
  • Observe children's emotional state—Observe a child's behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns, which can indicate a child's level of anxiety or discomfort. Enlist the help of a mental health professional, if needed.
  • Limit television viewing of these events—Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children.
  • Maintain a normal routine—Keeping a normal schedule can be reassuring for children who are stressed.

The tip sheet also includes suggested points to highlight when having these discussions with children. It is available in multiple languages, including Spanish.

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers is available at https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/talking-to-children-about-violence-tips-for-parents-and-teachers.


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