I started with a very basic definition of dead: something that's not moving or breathing. Then I explained how some things are never alive and others are alive for a while and then they die. And finally, I used Elmo's World type questions to help him sort out the ideas and the differences.
How do we shield our children from news of these horrific events? Is it even possible? I talk to a colleague whose kindergartner has missed several days of school while the manhunt for the shooter in the woods ensues.
It is never too early, they are never too young, to learn that they can make a difference. They count. They matter. Their actions affect others. And most importantly, that they are a world and they can save a world.
Safe means that you are being your best self and living the life you've imagined even in the face of uncertainty. It means that you are being kind and brave -- to yourself and to others -- even if you are afraid. Even when you don't know what's going to happen next.
There are many challenges that come with parenting, but today I have been most challenged by my overwhelming urge to weep and the need to maintain a sense of calm and stability for Laurel and Violet. It has been a day of dissonance on so many levels.
The important thing to know is that children take their coping cues from us, the trusted adults in their lives. This isn't to say that we should cover our pain. Not at all. Rather, we need to model healthy coping mechanisms for our children.
When talking with our children about tragedy, we can choose to emphasize grief and healing rather than fear and danger. Our purpose is to help our children recover and be resilient, not to be frightened of their lives.