How do you explain to a child something that adults have trouble understanding themselves? Seeing the images on the news can be especially upsetting for children.

I have a son that's almost 4, and he can ask questions about what happened and why did it happen. You have to give answers and you must be honest because children will usually know if you're not.

And always remember that they really need to be informed. Use words and concepts your child can understand.

Make your explanation appropriate to your child's age and level of understanding. Don't overload a child with too much information.

Here are some guidelines from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry about how to talk to your children and how to provide support for them:

  • Create a time and place for children to ask their questions.
  • Don't force children to talk about things until they're ready.
  • Help children find ways to express themselves.  Some children may not be able to talk about their thoughts, feelings, or fears.
  • Remember that children tend to personalize situations.  For example, they may worry about friends and relatives or their own safety.

Hearing about the deaths and seriously injured people could cause some children to be worried and confused. Parents need to be prepared to talk to them about it. One of the best things we can always do for our children is make them feel safe.