How to talk to children when the news is scary

Seven tips by First News Editor in Chief, Nicky Cox MBE.


  1. Don’t try to turn off the news when there is bad news. Sadly, in the technological world in which we live, adults are no longer in control of how children access information. News comes at us 24 hours a day from dedicated news channels, radio, the internet, and newspaper headlines. Even if you managed to shield children from all that, things that happen in the news will be talked about in the school playground or lunch hall. Better that your class is armed with the real facts than hearing exaggerated, second or third-hand versions. Information is better than misinformation.
  2. Even if a pupil doesn’t mention bad news, don’t assume they are not troubled by it. They may be worrying quietly inside. Explain simply what has happened, taking care not to use sensationalised words that tend to be used by the national press.
  3. First News covers good and bad news in the paper and on our daily online news channel, First News Live! Use our content, made especially for children, as a platform to talk to pupils about the news. It is always created to explain what has happened but to offer reassurance, too.
  4. Remind them that there is more more good news than bad news happening. And that there are many more good people than bad people.
  5. Reassure them that they are safe. Remember that these types of events are extremely rare, which is why they are in the news. The likelihood of being caught up in an event like this is so, so small, you can’t even do the sum to calculate the risk.
  6. Remind children that the best way to stay safe is to take care in their own daily lives. Children are more likely to have an accident in their own home than when they are out and about.
  7. Tell them to hold their families a little bit closer and for a little bit longer.

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