Coping with the Sadness of the Sandy Hook Shooting

How to Help Children Deal with the Sandy Hook Tragedy

As the awful news from Sandy Hook surfaced, most adults immediately began asking “How should we help children cope?”  It is a terrible irony that as we learned about the murder of children, most of us immediately thought about how to protect our children.

What Is Best for Young Children

At AcornDreams, we focus on supporting young children.  Experts agree; children younger than 7 should be told as little as possible about an event like this.  They are too young to understand and process the information.

Shield young children from news coverage, avoid detailed discussions in their presence, and answer questions they ask with carefully considered answers.  If young children are fearful, acknowledge that it is scary.  Remind young children that they are safe right now.

Should they ask – be honest that you don’t know why it happened.  Be calm and low-key.  Involve them in ordinary activities. Children feel secure with routine.

How Can Distressed Adults Reassure Children?

Most of us still feel heavy-hearted.  It is hard to be calm and fully present with young children when we feel shocked and sad.  Young children are often intuitive, picking up on adult worries and confusion.  Young children can perceive even unspoken sorrows of adults.

In our focus on protecting and caring for children, we sometimes forget to honor and tend to our own distress.  Or perhaps just don’t take the time.  To be calm, connected, and responsive with children, we may need to take the time to figure out what helps manage our own distress.

Taking Care of Yourself To Take Care of Children

Whether you find comfort lighting a candle for those lost, talking with friends, taking walks, in prayer, or in helping others, we invite you to take time to ground yourself.  In the immediacy of everyday life with young children, we hope you can find ways to take care of yourself so you are most able to be a calm, loving presence with children.


Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Sandy Hook.

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