Chapter 3: Explaining tragic world events

The media

All too often, the voices talking at us from the TV or the radio in the car become background noise. We become desensitized to the violence, death and tone of alarm in news programs, TV shows, movies, video games and music videos. As we tune out the sounds and scenes, we may not realize that our children are watching and listening.   

Managing exposure

It’s important to be aware of what your child may be exposed to at home or elsewhere. At any age, they may be frightened or overwhelmed by the sounds and graphic images. It’s best to limit their exposure – to what extent depends on their age and maturity. 

  • Young children who haven’t started school yet don’t need to know about world events. 
    • They’re highly sensitive to the emotions of their caregivers even when they don’t understand what’s being discussed.
    • They need to feel their surroundings are calm and safe.
  • Watch or listen with your older children so you can talk together about what they’re hearing or seeing. Balance their wish for honest information with their need for safety and security.


Responding to questions

School-aged and even preschool-aged children may be exposed to community and world events at daycare, school, a friend’s house as well as at their own home.

  • Ask how they feel about what they've heard or seen.
  • Correct anything they haven't understood.
  • Let their questions guide you on how much information to provide. When children ask about an event, they’re usually ready for even difficult answers.
  • Try not to provide more information than they ask for.
  • Give information using words they can understand.
  • If you don't have the answer, it's okay to say: I don't know.