Your Children and the Aftermath of the Colorado Shootings

It has happened again.  A dreadful event has broken through our sense of safety in our own communities.  The news complete with interviews and diagrams of how the shootings happened is everywhere–on the internet, the TV, the radio, and in the newspaper.  I hope that you have been able to shield younger children (like 8 and younger)from this exposure.

However, it is likely that your children have heard about the tragedy.  I want to share with you a few resources that I think are quite helpful in guiding parents as they support their children at this time.  These articles emphasize  six basic steps.

1  Be aware of your own feelings and how you might be communicating them to your child.  Take care of yourself.

2.  Limit access to news at this time.  The repeated exposure is likely to be more upsetting to children.

3. Be ready for feelings about the shootings.  Don’t assume that you know what your child feels.  Instead, be available in times to talk (bedtime, in the car) and ask questions.  Don’t wait for your child to bring it up.  Validate feelings.  The emotional upset from this event might bring up feelings from earlier upsetting times in your child’s life.  It’s OK.  Just be available to deal with it.

4.  Keep your home a safe place for having and expressing feelings.

5.  For older elementary school children and up emphasize that this is really a rare event. It does not change whether you are safe in your neighborhood.

6. Find ways that your children can express compassion to someone who needs it in your neighborhood.  These actions are empowering.  Perhaps there is an elderly person who needs a visit.  Maybe you could make a contribution to a food pantry.

Here are the helpful links that I received this morning from the Massachusetts Psychological Association Disaster Response Network.

Resources for Mass Shooting Tragedy


APA – Psychology Help Center:



Red Cross:


  • “Red Cross Support Colorado Community After Tragic Shooting”;

  • Taking Care of Your Emotional Health After a Disaster


NYU Child Study Center:


  • School Shootings: Helping Teens Cope– A Guide for Parents. Institute for Trauma and Resilience




  • “Five Tips for Talking with Kids about Scary News”




  • Disaster Distress Helpline


PTSD Research Quarterly:


  • Impact of Mass Shootings on Survivors, Families and Communities




10 Responses to “Your Children and the Aftermath of the Colorado Shootings”
  1. Carolyn,

    These are some critical reminders. Thank you for taking the time to write this additional piece!


  2. dr.cstone says:

    Dear Ann,
    You’re very welcome. I’m sure there are children all over who are having a little more trouble getting to sleep. It seemed important to share these suggestions.

  3. Thank you, Carolyn. This article will help many children and families to cope with this tragedy.

  4. dr.cstone says:

    Thanks, Lynda. That’s my hope. The fear really ripples out from events like this.

  5. thank you Carolyn. Good reminders.

  6. dr.cstone says:

    Thanks for your comment. I wanted to reach out to as many anxious children and parents as possible.

  7. Thank you for this very helpful post. I think it will be very useful to a lot of folks.
    Best, Allison

  8. These are such helpful reminders. I especially like #6 – finding ways to express compassion and reach out towards those who need help. Even if they’re not directly related to the tragedy, it feels good to be doing *something* to make the world a better place.

  9. dr.cstone says:

    Dear Allison,
    It seemed that there would be a lot of kids who would be having trouble sleeping after hearing that news. I know that when my son was young, he would have been affected.

  10. dr.cstone says:

    Hi Rachelle,
    I really agree. It helps to be able to do something at such times.
    Thanks for your comment.