We woke up to the most devastating news today, with reports that 22 people died in the horrific bombing at Manchester Arena, at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. With so much tragedy filling up our timelines, it's a given that our children are going to bear witness to the grief, and ask questions.


While many mums and dads out there will have a handle on explaining the sad loss of a family member to an illness or accident, there is a little more uncertainty when it comes to random acts of violence and mass murder.


In light of today's events, MummyPages.ie spoke to Bríd Carroll, Chair of The Irish Childhood Bereavement Network (ICBN), for advice on talking to children about the frightening reports and imagery they are being exposed to on a daily basis.



Bríd shared the following tips for any parent/guardian discussing random acts of violence and death with a little one:


1. Draw on your own experience

While society has changed a lot, even since our own childhood, Bríd reminds us that the majority of parents/guardians out there have grown up through some kind of tragedy themselves – and the reassurance of getting through it should lead us when talking to our children.


“It’s always a good baseline for parents; to go back and think, ‘Actually, I did have an experience like this, I did come through it, and I’m still here,’” explains Bríd.


2. Be led by your child

Bríd advises parents to let their child lead the way when it comes to discussing stories of violence or death, informing us that an open and honest conversation which addresses their questions is always the way to go.


Tell them the truth: sad things happen in our world, and they upset many people; but there are also lots of good people to protect and care for us (as illustrated in some of our most popular fairy tales).


3. Don’t go into unnecessary detail

Bríd recommends that parents only offer up as much information as is being asked of them, so as to protect them from any further and unnecessary trauma.


“Just because a child asks us a question, doesn’t necessarily mean we have to flood them with all the facts. We don’t have to go into the gruesome forensics of what has happened,” says Bríd.



4. Reassure them, and let them know you’re there for them

It is, of course, so important for any anxious or scared child to be reassured and comforted through what can be a traumatic ordeal. Acknowledging your child’s fear and comforting them is key, while leaving the door open for future discussion is just as important.


“Tell them, ‘If you are worried, come back to Mum and Dad if you need information’. If we actually give a child information, and they know everything is okay, it won’t worry them any longer,” says Bríd.


5. Don’t leave the conversation up to someone else

Every parent knows their own child best and will immediately be able to sense when something’s not right; they are also in tune with their child’s fears and anxieties, making it so important for that parent/guardian to be the one to have the conversation.


Bríd advises that, if a school must get involved, they liaise with the parent/guardian on how to broach the subject to the child; alternatively, it could be discussed via the school’s parents’ association.


For more information, visit www.childhoodbereavement.ie.