Talking with Children and Teens About Tough Issues

Talking with Children and Teens About Tough Issues

We long for the day that natural disasters and senseless violence will be but a distant memory. Yet our children are exposed to these horrific events in the media on a regular basis. How can we guide them in ways that will help them to grow into mature adults? How can we quell our own fears while keeping them calm and feeling safe?

The links below offer some guidance for what to say (and what not to say), for what to do (and what not to do), and how to help children navigate the tough issues in their lives.

Conversation starters for families by Christine V. Hides

Talking About the War in Ukraine from Real Kids Real Faith
How to Talk to Kids About the Ukraine Invasion
from PBS
Talking to Your Kids About War

Talking to Kids About Violence, Crime, & War
Helping Kids Cope with a Violent World
A resource sheet for families created by Rev. Jennie Valentine from First Church Sandwich (MA) UCC
Prayers for families video from Traci Smith (4-minute video includes 2 prayers that are helpful for when one is afraid)
Praying for Peace reflective coloring page

Leading Conversations After a Crisis
     from Teaching Tolerance

Helping Children Cope with Loss, Death, and Grief: Tips for Teachers and Parents
     Scroll down for a list of children's books about death, loss, and coping.

Coping After a Disaster activity book for children from the CDC

     Resources for children and families from Hope 4 Hurting Kids.
     Visit I Am a Child of Divorce for resources specifically for children
     Support for children, teens, and families after the death of a parent

Gun Violence
     A Faith-Based Intergenerational Resource for Conversation and Action to Prevent Gun Violence
               from the Disciples of Christ
​     Can We Talk About Guns? from the Christian Century
     Gun Violence Prevention Congregational Toolkit from the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship; download for free                      School Shootings and Community Gun ViolenceWhat to Say to Children and How to Help Them Cope from Bradley Hospital and RI Council of Churches  (in English and Spanish)

Helping Children and Youth Cope with Violence and Disasters
     from the National Institute of Mental HealthTalking About Death with Children

Pornography - What To Do When a Child Has Been Exposed
     from Protect Young Minds

How to Raise Kids to Tell the Truth
     a blog by Cindy Wang Brandt, author of Parenting Forward



Good Grief: Helping Groups of Children When a Friend Dies by Sandra Sutherland Fox
Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies by Janis Silverman
When Kids Ask Hard Questions: Faith-filled Responses for Tough Questions by Bromleigh Mc Cleneghan & Karen Ware Jackson

Children's Books about Death, Loss, and Coping

Badger's Paring Gifts by Susan Varley
Everett Anderson's Goodbye by Lucille Clifton
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia
I Remember Miss Perry by Pat Brisson
The Memory Book: A Grief Journal for Children & Families by Joanna Rowland
The 10th Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst
Tear Soup by Pat Schwiebert
Waterbugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney


Some Things Congregations Can Do

  • Collect comfort supplies for local hospitals such as stuffed animals, snuggle blankets, comforting children's books, good quality craft supplies, tote bags of drawing pads & Crayons/markers, etc. BUT only after checking with the specific needs from the facility first!
  • Connect with agencies, such as the Children's Room in Arlington, MA, for ideas and opportunities to help
  • Gather a Prayer Group together
  • Contact volunteers to make meals for a grieving family
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