1) Substantially limit exposure to news media and violent images of the attack. If your children are young, this is easy to do. If they are older and have easier access to media, talk to them about the importance of limiting their exposure and explain that images can linger in the brain and make them difficult to forget --which can create longer lasting trauma. Be available to talk about what it feels like to see such images and validate your older child or teen's responses.
2) Provide limited information to younger children and assure them that Ariana Grande is ok and reinforce that such attacks are extremely rare. Ask your child what they have heard and keep it simple, while clarifying anything untrue or excessively fear provoking.
3) Reinforce the good. Focus and talk about all the love and support people provide for one another in tragic situations. Reinforce that the majority of humans are good and loving people. Provide examples like the ones we are hearing about where people opened their homes to strangers last night or highlight healthy and supportive social media posts.
4) Let your child or teen make a card, draw a picture, talk or offer support to those in need, or volunteer in some cause they care about. Taking action feels more powerful than doing nothing.
As parents, these same ideas are good for us too. The best thing we can do for our kids is to take care of ourselves!
Limit your own media exposure, focus on the incredible acts of human kindness, hug and love and squeeze your kids!
Dr. Kim Sage