By Belinda Luscombe
June 13, 2016
IDEAS
Luscombe is an editor-at-large at TIME and the author of Marriageology: The Art and Science of Staying Together.

For kids, Orlando is usually known as the home of the so-called “happiest place on earth,” Disney World, but that has been the opposite of true since the shooting at a gay nightclub in that city on the early morning of June 12. Because kids may have already heard of Orlando, it’s possible they are alerted more to events there than usual and have questions for their parents.

While it’s natural to want to shield kids, especially young ones from horrible and terrifying events, parents should be ready to answer any questions their children have, say child development experts. This is a very tricky story to tell and it’s O.K. to say that you don’t have all the answers. It’s also perfectly natural to be upset and sad, but experts suggest that you keep as calm a demeanor as you can manage when talking to them, because kids very much pick up their cues from parents.

Experts always encourage parents to trust their instincts. Kids vary in levels of anxiety, and vulnerability. You know your kid and what they can handle better than anyone.

Tragically, this is not the first big attack that parents may have had cause to talk to their kids about. After the attacks in Paris in November 2015, TIME asked prominent child development experts for guidance on how to discuss these event with their children. That advice, below is relevant again today.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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