Tales from Lower School
How to Talk to Kids About Tragedies
A message from Lower School Director Alison Rothschild
In the Lower School, teachers have begun to discuss disaster relief projects with students. As an institution committed to developing empathy and social consciousness in all of our students, conversations about collection efforts provide a developmentally appropriate avenue for this area of our work.
The focus of our conversations has been around loss and damage to material things, and our desire to help children replace those lost and damaged things. Age appropriate conversations begin and end with reassurance that children are safe. As kids get older (7-, 8-, 9-years-old) they are able to extrapolate that there was also loss of life, but that has not been the focus of our conversations in school.
The responses to the conversations have varied tremendously, with some children enthusiastically offering to give away their toys and books while our youngest students, who are not yet able to understand another perspective, listen to the discussions and follow up with their own experiences with rain, water, toys or electricity.
I trust our teachers implicitly to provide safe and comfortable dialogue around these topics, but wanted to provide parents with some guidelines and some helpful resources to help navigate these and (sadly) future tragic events.
First and foremost, it is best to limit exposure to these events. Graphic images on the news or in photographs can be traumatic for young children. Children should have varying degrees of information, depending on age and maturity.
It's been my experience that in times of trouble, young children seem to hold it together during the school day and then process fears, sadness and other emotions at home with their family, often at bedtime. It's important to give children the opportunity to express their fears, ask questions, and then provide them with the reassurance that they are safe.
Here are two resources that may be of interest.
As I think about all of the events transpiring around the world, I am increasingly appreciative of our Calhoun family. We are all so fortunate to be part of such a kind and compassionate community. And I'm encouraged and thankful that our children are learning, right from the start, that they have the ability to help others in need.
Choose groups to clone to: