How do you talk about tragedy?

Between the shooting in Arizona here in the States, the flooding in Australia, and the anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, there's been a lot to explain to kids in the past few days.

How do you do it?

I try to be honest whenever I talk to my kids, but it can be tricky to be honest and yet not give so muc detail that we scare them. I did tell my older son that one of the people killed in the Arizona shooting was a girl his age, and that sobered him.

I think my gut reaction is to revert to what Mr. Rogers said: "When bad things happen, look for the helpers."

Not only does that divert the focus from the scary thing, it also sets kids up to know that they can be helpers when bad things happen, too. That they're not just helpless.

So what have you said to your kids about any recent events? How old are your kids?

I told mine (almost-9 and 5 1/2) that someone shot at a group of people in Arizona, and some of the people died. I said that we don't have all the information yet, but that it looks like the man had a sickness in his brain that made him think he should shoot the people. And then we talked about the people that helped in the situation.

What have you said? I think this is one of the hardest things about parenting older kids.