Exile Blog

For Parents: Talking to Your Kids About School Shootings

Only 48 hours after shots echoed through the halls of Covenant Presbyterian, the classrooms are empty, and the playground is quiet. Hearts are breaking in our Nashville community, and we are grieving alongside our dear brothers and sisters of Covenant. 

But the school calendar continues for children nationwide as if nothing has happened. 

Many of you dropped your sons and daughters off at school today — knowing they will return with questions about the tragedy affecting boys and girls like them. 

In moments like this, words fail. No string of syllables conveys the depths of heartbreak, grief, fear, anger, and shock that follow such senseless violence. For parents looking for words to comfort their children, we understand how difficult it can be to discuss trauma you’re still processing yourself. 

We’ve gathered trusted resources from our dear friends and expert children’s counselors local to Nashville — Sissy Goff & Josh + Christi Straub — on talking to your children about school shootings. May their words be a blessing and comfort to you and your families at this time.


Words of Wisdom from Sissy Goff

Counselor at Nashville’s Daystar Ministries, Author, Speaker, and Parenting Specialist

Only hours after the tragic shooting, Sissy shared a video that gained national attention — providing eleven tips for talking to your children about crises like this. Heartfelt and seasoned with grace and empathy, Sissy’s words shine a guiding light for parents reeling from yet another national tragedy — especially one within their own community.



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A post shared by Sissy Goff (@sissygoff)


If this video was helpful, you can find more resources from Sissy on Instagram (@sissygoff) and her team (@raisingboysandgirls).

Sissy also works alongside a team of incredible child and family counselors at Daystar Ministries (linked here). Local to Nashville, Daystar Counseling Ministries is offering the first three sessions at no charge to Covenant School families. To give to this immediate need and sponsor much-needed trauma care, please visit daystarcounseling.com.


Five Tips from Dr. Josh Straub

Excerpt from “How To Talk With Your Kids And Teenagers About School Shootings”

Parents, your emotions matter. So do your child’s. Labeling, or putting words to what we feel, is critical for feeling safe again—especially after a crisis.

What that looks like differs depending on the age of our children. Here’s a brief overview of what’s important to remember as we talk with our kids about school shootings.

1. Process your Emotions

Don’t expect your kids to calm down while you frantically tell them everything will be okay. Our kids feel the discrepancy, and it communicates that it’s not okay to talk about or process feelings.

2. Filter Exposure to the Event

Try to limit what you, especially your kids and teenagers, see in the news. In the world of social media, we can now watch events literally through the lens of people experiencing them as they unfold. Especially with older kids and teens, don’t merely avoid the videos; talk to your kids about why it’s not helpful to watch them.

3. Maintain Everyday Routines

Take extra time this week to slow down, clear some things off your schedule, and be together. Not unlike conversations about sex, parents tend to feel a lot of pressure about saying the right thing. Don’t underestimate the power of your emotional presence to calm and soothe your kids.

4. Talk to your Kids Age-Appropriately

No matter the age of your child or teenager, seek to understand their inner world before trying to get them to understand our outer world. First, listen to feelings and concerns. Second, seek understanding and clarification. Third, think about the story you want to tell. No matter the age of your child, read through each age demographic, because they build on one another.

5. Model Compassion to Others

The Latin root of the word compassion means to “suffer with.” I embrace the emotions I feel today and pen these words to help other families because if I don’t “suffer with” victims now, when will I? If I want my children to value human life, they need to see me—their dad—practice what I preach. So, as parents, let’s find support, label how we feel, and move forward in love (1 John 4:18).


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You can follow along with Josh and Christi Straub on Instagram for additional resources on emotional development and parenting. Visit Josh and Christi’s website Famous at Home (linked here) or on Instagram (@famousathome) to harness the power of emotion for deep relational connection with your children.


Additional Resources

From Trusted Trauma Organizations We Adore



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A post shared by Save the Children US (@savethechildren)


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A post shared by HUMANITE (@humanite.peace.collective)


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A post shared by A Kids Book About (@akidsbookabout)



Three Ways you can make a difference

You can stand with grieving Nashville families today.


1. Give to Daystar Counseling Ministries

Child survivors of the Covenant School shooting and their families may need help processing and overcoming the extreme trauma they’ve experienced. In response, Daystar Counseling Ministries is offering the first three counseling sessions at no charge to Covenant School families — made possible by the generosity of others in the community. You can give to the Covenant School Counseling Fund at daystarcounseling.com/covenant-tragedy-help.

2. Give Directly to Covenant School

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee established a Caring for Covenant Fund to collect donations for the Covenant community. All donations made to this Fund will be directed to The Covenant School to support the healing of those affected by this tragedy. Give directly to support at cfmt.org (direct link here).

3. Pray for Survivors & Their Community

In times of heartache, we know our greatest resource is always found in Jesus. So today, join us as we pray for the Lord’s peace, presence, and comfort for every child, parent, educator, first responder, medical professional, and counselor. We pray specifically for the families of Evelyn, Hallie, William, Katherine, Cynthia, and Mike. May the Lord surround these families with his unfailing love and mercy — filling their minds with precious memories and peace that transcends all understanding. 



A Note to the Nashville community

You are dearly loved & held.

The Lord promises to be near to the brokenhearted and rescues those crushed in spirit. At a time when the air seems heavy and our entire community is grieving, we pray you find rest and peace in the comfort of His righteous right hand.

The Lord is holding your tender hearts, friends. His love is immense, and his Kingdom is imminent. ⁠











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