How to Talk to Your Kids About Shootings

October 03, 2017

For adults, it's hard for us to wrap our minds around mass shootings. But for children, how do you approach the sensitive subject with your kids?

How you talk to your children will likely be different from another parent. And that goes for any topic. Each child absorbs things differently and is approached differently. So keep that in mind when reading this guide.

According to the Today Show, they say, "The American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend avoiding the topic with children until they reach a certain age – around 8, but again, it depends on the child."

Parenting and youth development expert, Deborah Gilboa, MD, says “If it doesn’t directly affect your family, kids under eight do not need to hear about this.” Any earlier, it may be hard for them to process the information.

“First, you have to process your own emotional response. What you do will affect them more than what you say,” Gilboa explains. “Have your first reaction away from your child.”


At this age, Gilboa recommends that you keep your explanation simple and reinforce what the parents believe.

“You have to figure out before you talk to them what story you want them to tell themselves,” Gilboa says. For example, you can let them know that a bad man/woman hurt people, or a person with a serious illness felt angry and hurt others. It should be a one-sentence story. Rather the story be too negative, you can reference all the heroes in the story.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33

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