Talking To Teens About Tragedy

How to talk to my teen about tragedy? Many of us remember Columbine and Sandy Hook as if it was yesterday. Since then the number of shootings, including school tragedies is overwhelming.


It never gets easier to hear about, but what’s more concerning is the impact that it’s having on our young people. News is a 24-hour cycle these days not to mention your teen’s social media feeds.



Any news event about at tragedy will be played and replayed as details emerge. Chances are they will hear about a tragedy before their parents thanks to the internet.


Peers talk, televisions are left on for snippets to be overheard, and social media is a constant source of news. More often than not those facts your child receives about a tragedy won’t be accurate and can fuel anxiety. Teens need hear the facts, and you are  their best source.


How do we talk to our teens about these tragedies?


It’s time to turn to the experts.


Dr. Michele Borba, a leading educational psychologist shares her 10 Tips to Talk to Kids About Tragedy including her T.A.L.K. model.


T – Talk about the event.


Ensure that your child/teen has accurate information that come from you so as not to develop unfounded fears.


A – Assess how your child is coping.


Every child/teen handles a tragedy differently. There is no predicting. Tune into your child’s feelings and behavior. Watch and listen how he deals with the event so you’ll know how to help him cope and build resilience.


L – Listen to your child’s concerns and questions.


Use the “Talk. Stop. Listen. Talk. Stop. Listen” model as your discuss a tragedy. Listen more than your talk. Follow your child’s lead.


K – Kindle hope that the world will go on despite the horror.


Help your children realize though there is tragedy, evil and horror there is also goodness, compassion and hope.


Order Dr. Michele Borba’s bestselling book, Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Shine and Others Struggle.



Dr. Robyn Silverman is a child and teen development specialist wrote an informative blog post on helping direct parents in try to make sense of this senseless act.


  • Get children mental help when they need it.
  • Do social skills training with kids who are lacking in empathy.
  • Be a mentor or help find a mentor for children who can use some guidance.
  • See children for their strengths, not simply for what they lack.


How to Talk to Kids About Traumatic Events Podcast with Dr. Robyn Silverman.



Melissa Fenton, a former librarian, who brought us the compelling essay about parent shaming, “Put Down Your Pitchforks,” nails it again, when she pens on the website Grown and Flown, “Trying to be ‘Perfect’ is Killing Our Teens and We’re to Blame.


Teenagers are suffering from depression and anxiety in record-setting numbers. Stumped researchers, social scientists,  and psychologists have only begun to investigate the causes, many of which they have linked to smart phone and social media use, but is that really it? Could be, seeing as how they’re growing up under a selfie spotlight – with images of perfection constantly loading in their devices – perpetuating the great lie that everyone else has it more together and better than they do.


And we got here when we opened every conversation with our high schoolers about futures, goals, and achievements with the words, “I just want you to succeed,” instead of the words, “I just want you to be happy.”


Take time to read this entire essay. It’s a must read and share it with every parent of a teenager.



Also read: How to Help Your Teen Develop Empathy.




If you are struggling with your troubled teenager and you have exhausted your local resources, learn more about how residential treatment can help you teen. Contact us today for  a free consultation.


Image provided by Pixabay.

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