Explaining the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting to a 7-Year-Old

How Parents Talk With Their Kids About the Newtown Shooting and Other Violence

Yahoo Contributor Network
Explaining the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting to a 7-Year-Old

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Explaining death to children is always hard, but it can help them learn more about life.

How do we talk to our children about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School? What conversations did we have with them in the days after the Newtown shooting? Yahoo News asked parents to share their personal stories and perspectives.

FIRST PERSON | The heart-wrenching pictures of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary are plastered over the front pages of every news site. Behind me, my 7-year-old asks, "Mom, who are those kids?" He started out life at 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and he's already almost as tall as me.

Like any parent, I don't want to think about how easily he could be taken away from me.

"They're kids who died today," I say.

He knows what death is; his cousin died when they were both 3 years old.

"Did they do something wrong?"

"No, they just went to school."

"Why did they die?"

"They got hurt, and they died. Some people are sick in a way we can't see, and they hurt people."

It's hard to admit to your child that the world isn't safe, even in our small-town home of Sheridan, Wyo. Anyone can get hurt, even if they never hurt anyone else. The last thing I want is for my son to live his life afraid. If I hide these harsh realities from him, he's going to find out anyway, and he's going to think I never told him because I'm afraid.

Bad things happen. Yet we must still live life unfettered by fear. It's easier said than done. My one wish is that my son, and the other children who hear of this tragedy, keeps asking his question, "How can we help the sick people so that they don't want to hurt anybody?"

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