Comadres y Compadres: Are you wondering what to say to children about today’s school closure?

Please share this widely as we want to make sure that parents, tia/os, nina/os, and grandparents have this information!

If you are wondering about what to say to your children about the LAUSD school closure and the terror threat, here’s some info that might help you. Its a scary time for all of us. Obviamente, you know your child best so use your discretion. We have advice and also ways that children might react by age below.

We are all learning how to be parents, tia/os and nina/os as we go. Kids don’t come with instructions and these are difficult times that most of us have never experienced. Here’s some advice:

Age Appropriateness: One of the things that I have wondered about as a mom is “what is age appropriate?” Parents have to show discretion and you know your child. Experts say that age 8 is the age where the type of information you share changes.  Keep it simple for kids under 8. A suggestion could be to use language like “this is a stay at home day.”  With children under 8, let them know that the people at school are taking care of the situation. With older children, they have more access to information and will have more questions for you. Be gentle with them all.

Encourage them to talk about what the see, hear, feel and fear.

Acknowledge what they feel and fear. Give them enough information to understand the unusual nature of the situation. This will help them put their fears into perspective. Be aware of any questions they may have. Answer them simply.

Assure them.  Hug them, reassure them. Help them feel reassured that the adults will protect them. Remind them that parents, teachers and school staff will be working for them. An example, “Though bad things happen sometimes, we are going to keep you safe.”

Be aware of information they are exposed to: Typically recommendations are to try to “limit our own detailed discussions of these events in front of the children and their exposure to graphic media accounts of the events.” Since you are getting information from the news media, be mindful of what you allow your child to see.

Commonly experienced responses to trauma among children:  The following is a list of common responses to trauma among children by age. We are borrowing this from National Institute of Mental Health: Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Parents Can Do

Children age 5 and under may react in a number of ways including:

-Showing signs of fear
-Clinging to parent or caregiver
-Crying or screaming
-Whimpering or trembling
-Moving aimlessly
-Becoming immobile
-Returning to behaviors common to being younger
-Being afraid of the dark

Children age 6 to 11 may react by:

-Isolating themselves
-Becoming quiet around friends, family, and teachers
-Having nightmares or other sleep problems
-Refusing to go to bed
-Becoming irritable or disruptive
-Having outbursts of anger
-Starting fights
-Being unable to concentrate
-Refusing to go to school
-Complaining of physical problems
-Developing unfounded fears
-Becoming depressed
-Expressing guilt over what happened
-Feeling numb emotionally
-Doing poorly with school and homework
-Losing interest in fun activities

Adolescents age 12 to 17 may react by:

-Having flashbacks to the event (flashbacks are the mind reliving the event)
-Having nightmares or other sleep problems
-Avoiding reminders of the event
-Using or abusing drugs, alcohol, or tobacco
-Being disruptive, disrespectful, or behaving destructively
-Having physical complaints
-Feeling isolated or confused
-Being depressed
-Being angry
-Losing interest in fun activities
-Having suicidal thoughts
-Adolescents may feel guilty. They may feel guilt for not preventing injury or deaths. They also may have thoughts of revenge

What can parents do to help? After violence or disaster, parents and family members should identify and address their own feelings — this will allow them to help others. Explain to children what happened and let them know:

-You love them
-The event was not their fault
-You will do your best to take care of them
-It’s okay for them to feel upset.



-Allow children to cry
-Allow sadness
-Let children talk about feelings
-Let them write about feelings
-Let them draw pictures about the event or their feelings.


-Expect children to be brave or tough
-Make children discuss the event before they are ready
-Get angry if children show strong emotions
-Get upset if they begin bedwetting, acting out, or thumbsucking.

Other tips:

  • If children have trouble sleeping give them extra attention, let them sleep with a light on, or let them sleep in your room (for a short time).
  • Try to keep normal routines, for example, reading bedtime stories, eating dinner together, watching TV together, reading books, exercising, or playing games. If you can’t keep normal routines, make new ones together.
  • Help children feel in control when possible by letting them choose meals, pick out clothes, or make some decisions for themselves.


Here’s more information and a resource for you.

Explaining Violence and Tragedy to Children

We will also be updating information on our Facebook page: LA Comadre Facebook Page

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Alma V. Marquez

Alma V. Marquez

Alma V. Marquez is the founder of and is the founder and CEO of Del Sol Group, a communications and public affairs firm focusing on Strategy, Outreach and Leadership in Education, Voter and Civic Engagement. She specializes in parent education, politics and community organizing. She is a proud product of California public schools. She is a graduate of Huntington Park High School in Southeast LA. She also completed her all of credit recovery classes at Maxine Waters Occupational Center in Watts in order to graduate from high school. She attended East LA College and transferred to Occidental College where she earned a Bachelor's degree in English and Comparative Literary Students and Politics. She earned a Master of Arts Degree in Urban Planning at UCLA. Her daughter is a junior in a charter school, chartered by LAUSD. She decided to start the LA Comadre blog because she wanted to create a platform for Latinas and education.

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