Your heart feels scrubbed raw; your mind drained and defeated. What once seemed unthinkable—a school shooting—has now happened again, and you’re staring into the eyes of your child, trying to create a sense of safety, security and support in a world that seems devoid of it. Where do you even begin? How do you comfort a child who just learned that six people—including three kids—have been killed in Nashville, TN, as headlines remind us there have been more mass shootings in 2023 than days of the year?
It's no easy conversation to have, but it’s a necessary one—even if your kids haven't brought it up or don't seem aware it happened. "Even if children haven’t heard about this tragic event, it might come up the next day or at some point in the near future," says Dr. Nina Vasan, MD, MBA and Chief Medical Officer at mental health service Real, noting that it will likely come up in their friend group or by some other means. "Take this opportunity to have the conversation now on your terms." Here’s how to address the pain they’re feeling in an age-appropriate way, according to therapists and family psychologists.