Talking to Children about Aurora Shootings: Know Your Kid

I’ve been glued to the TV and iPad soaking in details of the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings. A young, intelligent person methodically plotting that violent act is beyond comprehension. Part of my need to know all the facts is to try to make sense of the evil. Did you see the shooter in court with the wild red hair and dazed look? Sickening.

While I could sit for hours watching coverage, trolling for any new information on the case and the victims, Wilson doesn’t see the point of dwelling. Always a news junkie, when a big story happens I follow it closely, but I’ve realized over-saturation is not for everyone.  Violent and/or heartbreaking events can be triggers for some, causing anxiety and even depression.

I’ve seen several stories online this week about how to talk to your kids about tragedies and it reminded me of a column I wrote a few years ago when my then 9-year-old, Jacob, was grilling me about the deadly earthquake in Indonesia. You can check out my story here.

The bottom line is, you have to know your kid. My 9 and 6 year olds are much more concerned this week with their baseball playoffs and extra sprinkles on their ice cream than the news. That works for me.

Things haven’t changed much since I wrote that column. While my younger boys were oblivious, Jacob was fascinated by this week’s  shooting rampage and asked me a zillion questions, most of which I could not answer. He wanted to know how the shooter got so many guns and bullets, how he was able to booby trap his apartment, but mostly why? why? why?

12- year-old Jacob is extremely curious by nature (not sure where he gets it from) and gets frustrated when we can’t offer satisfactory responses to his queries.  We did our best to give him the appropriate information and encouraged him to discuss his feelings about the crime. The conversation repeatedly turned back to the shooter’s motive.

As we told him this week, part of growing up is realizing sometimes people do horrible things for no good reason at all.

3 responses to “Talking to Children about Aurora Shootings: Know Your Kid

  1. I’m relieved that my kids are still to young to be aware of this. How can you help a child make sense of something so senseless? Your article was really great. I read another great article (by Betsy Brown Braun, a child development guru from whom I take parenting classes) about how to discuss Aurora with your kids. Here’s the link, if you’re interested:
    It tries to help with explaining the “why’s”.

  2. so true. thanks for reading!

  3. I told my oldest the exact same thing. It’s so sad, having to break the news to them that there are some really, really awful things in this world, but it is an important part of growing up. I wish I could keep her world all sunshine and lollipops, but that’s not reality. 😦