In the article, “Conversations with Young Children about Violence,” authors David P. Barry and Lisa J. Lucas offer ten tips for talking with young children about frightening events. A few of their tips include:

    • If your students bring it up, you need to address it.
    • Listen first, then correct misinformation.
    • Talk about feelings.

With respect to listening first, they comment:

If a child comes to you and starts talking about violence they heard about on the news or in their communities, make the space for them to talk about it. You can start by saying, “Can you tell me what you heard?” This gives the child the opportunity to get the weight of the information off their chest, and allows you to have a better understanding of what they know and what they do not know. Sometimes, a child’s imagination can exacerbate what they have heard, making it feel even more frightening than the reality of what happened. For example, if a young child saw news reels on repeat about a school shooting, they may believe that each time they saw it meant it was happening over and over again, so we recommend taking the opportunity to correct any misinformation they may have.


The authors suggest that when discussing violent or scary incidents with children, we should “listen first, then correct misinformation.” Why do you think this is? How might this look, in practice, in the classroom?


Exchange Press is committed to supporting early ­childhood professionals worldwide in their efforts to craft early childhood environments where adults and ­children thrive - environments that foster friendship, curiosity, self-esteem, joy, and respect; where the talents of all are fully ­challenged and justly rewarded.

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