5 Tips to Help Children Handle Tragic News

Raising Children: Love, Limits & Lessons

20 Little Christmas Angels from Newtown, CT Were Welcomed into Heaven

If you are looking for a place to be alone with your sorrow, Williamsburg Angel Park welcomes you (tucked behind the Williamsburg Grange off of Route 9). It is a central place that can be use to gather with a small group or to spend time alone. There are benches and a flat stone wall for sitting too. Thank you to Donna Baldwin for this suggestion. – To find out about other gathering opportunities for parents/adults to share in this loss, check out this post on Hilltown Families Facebook Page for announcements. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Tragedy happens all around us, but when it involves innocent children there are few words that can express the pain any caring person feels. This week, a shooter took the lives of 20 innocent school children including several teachers and staff members at a small town school in Connecticut. That means Heaven accepted 20 new little angels this morning. If your own children haven’t heard about it, they most likely will. Here are some tips on how to help your children handle the news of this unthinkable tragedy.

  1. First and foremost it’s important that you settle any fears your children may have. They are torn between the worlds of fantasy and reality, so it may be very difficult for them to tell the difference between what is real and what isn’t. Make every effort to listen to them carefully and with 100% of your attention. It is important that you help them feel safe and calm. Sometimes they may fear that what happened to the children at this school will happen to them.
  2. Minimize (if not eliminate) any news coverage or discussion about the tragedy. The less they hear about it the better it will be for them. Refrain from having the news on when they are present at home or in the car while you’re driving. Too much exposure will overwhelm them and generate more fearful feelings that it could come to their school.
  3. Allow yourself to grieve privately. Your children look to you and your feelings as a guide on how they should feel. If you are feeling sad about this event and they notice, your children will feel sadder. Allow yourself to grieve in private, away from your children. Allow a friend or family member to stay with your children while you find the time to be alone to let your feelings out about this tragedy. Avoid keeping it all bottled up inside.
  4. Take measures to pull your family closer together over the next few days. Cancel less important activities and create family time to help your child feel more loved. Take measures to feel gratitude that this did not happen to your family and hold and love your children a little more than usual. It will help to further settle your child’s fears and help you deal with the sadness we are all feeling about this tragic event.
  5. Finally, use this occurrence to be sure that you are taking all possible measures to ensure your child’s safety where ever she goes. It is doubtful that the families who lost children in this massacre could have done anything different to avoid what happened. But tragedies come in all forms so take a closer look at all possible risks that could affect your child’s safety and well being.


Bill Corbett

Bill is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show Creating Cooperative Kids. He is a Western Mass native and grew up in the Northampton area. As a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse, the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and the management team of the Springfield Parent Academy. Bill’s practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a stepdad to three, and resides in the area with his loving wife Elizabeth and teen step daughter Olivia.  You can learn more about Bill and his work at www.CooperativeKids.com.

Online and Local Resources Following Newtown Tragedy

Candlelight vigils are being held in several towns around Western MA tonight, including Amherst, Agawam, and Cummington.

Our hearts go out to the families and community in Newtown, CT. Following Friday’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, parents might find themselves in need to gather, grieve and support one another and the families in CT. Share or find both online and local support shared by Hilltown Families readers via the Hilltown Families Facebook Page:


Wondering how to address this tragedy with your kids? Please find/share online resources HERE.


Hillary Bucs writes, “Can you post if you hear of any local candlelight vigils or public gatherings in which we can come together as parents to deal with the grief.” – Please share (and find out about) events/suggestions HERE.

6 New England States at the Big E’s Avenue of States

New England’s Finest Products, Traditions and Fare on the Big E’s Avenue of States

How can you visit all six New England states in less than one hour? Visit The Big E, the only fair in the country with multiple states participating! Take a stroll along the Avenue of States and see impressive replicas of each New England state’s original statehouse sitting on land actually owned by that state. Take a step inside and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and tastes and of quintessential New England.

The Avenue of States provides fairgoers the opportunity to tour New England all without leaving The Big E. A visit to the Fair just isn’t complete without taking a stroll through the unique offerings and traditions of each New England State. From native foods to products and crafts, each state provides a plethora of delights for residents of New England and those visiting from afar.

Connecticut Building – With pristine beaches, rolling hills, picturesque lodgings, fascinating history and incredible casino entertainment, visitors to Connecticut are sure to find something to satisfy their interests. Fairgoers who tour the building will enjoy Connecticut-made products and the aromas of delicious fare including Connecticut made pizza and candy products. Your trip will not be complete without a stop at LEGO, a visit with dinosaurs and a chat with a Connecticut winemaker as well as many of the agricultural exhibitors that will be representing the Nutmeg state. Visit on Connecticut Day, Sept. 19, and witness the best our neighbor to the south has to offer.

Maine Building – Known for mouth-watering “lobstahs,” exquisite wildlife, and serene coastline and landscape, the Pine Tree State exhibits its specialties at The Big E. Fairgoers can indulge in a famous Maine Baked Potato, delectable lobster roll or wild blueberry product! This year’s exhibits in the Maine Building include the Maine Lighthouse Collection Series, ever-popular maple products and nature-inspired jewelry and ornaments. Visit on Maine Day, Sept. 29 for a “down east” experience.

Massachusetts Building – Bay State locals are not surprised that Massachusetts brings agriculture, picture-perfect scenery and rich history to The Big E. The Massachusetts Building at The Big E, a replica of the original Statehouse, boasts the best of the state from Provincetown to Pittsfield. Browse through the many choices of Massachusetts fare including Finnish pancakes, maple products, and fudge. Purchase a Bay State t-shirt or a beautiful braided rug and browse other exhibitors to purchase products made right here in the Bay State. Be sure to check out the Tornado Fire Starters, a company recycling wood from trees destroyed by last year’s tornado. On Massachusetts Day, Sept. 20, demonstrations showcasing Massachusetts’ talents will take place both inside and outside the building.

New Hampshire Building – Enjoy homemade fudge, blueberry pie and candies, and treat yourself to handmade soaps and lotions without leaving The Big E. The Granite State has so much to offer visitors from hand thrown pottery to beaded jewelry and hand-woven rugs. Be sure to stop in and check it out! On New Hampshire Day, Sept. 21, the New Hampshire Building will host a slew of performers and entertainers all possessing that good ole’ New Hampshire spirit!

Rhode Island Building – Didn’t make it to the Rhode Island shore this summer? Not to worry, the shore is coming to you at The Big E. The Rhode Island Building invites you to spend time taking in some of the most popular sites Rhode Island has to offer. While you’re there, be sure to enjoy The Ocean State’s famous clam cakes, decadent seafood, and refreshing Del’s Lemonade. Don’t forget the coffee milk! The building is full of exhibits and businesses including embroidered clothing with New England themes, and one-of-a-kind Rhode Island creations. Stop by on Rhode Island Day, Sept. 18, for special performances.

Vermont Building – The Green Mountain State is known for its friendly people, historic villages, fabulous fare, working farms, coffee, and, oh did we mention maple syrup? Be sure to visit the Vermont Building on the Avenue of States and sample fresh, cold milk and cheddar cheese. Plan a ski vacation for the whole family while sipping on warm cider! Featuring everything from handmade crafts to hard-to-find antiques, the Vermont Building is sure to shine. Vermont Day is Sept. 22, so be sure to stop by for special performances and entertainment.

The Big E takes place Sept. 14 – 30, 2012 in West Springfield, Mass. For more information, be sure to visit TheBigE.com or call the info line at 413-205-5115.

– Submitted by Catherine Pappas

A Day at the Trash Museum

I Love Trash!

The Trash Musuem has educational kits for loan, including a worm composting bin. This kit includes material to discover how compost is made by vermicomposting worms. The kit is available for a month loan. Click on the photo to discover the other educational loan kits the Trash Museum has to offer. (Photo credit: Karen Bayne)

Late autumn here in New England and the light is leaving us. The sun is down almost as soon as we have eaten our after school snack. Everyone in my house becomes slightly grumpy as the light fades and we spend less time outdoors. The boys know their screen time allowance goes up and I fight my own lack of energy to keep us out, about and moving.

We turn inside ourselves a bit: we craft, we bake, we bang on our instruments to make a joyful noise in the midst of the settled routine feeling we have this far into the school term. At times, the boys are grouchy, like Oscar the Grouch grouchy.  So, we went to the Trash Museum In Hartford, CT.

The Trash Museum is free to visitors and open Wednesday – Friday from noon-4pm. It is the perfect day trip for families with young kids at home, or for a mama like me who was struck with multiple half days and professionals days this Fall. The Trash Museum is a sweet low-key outing. Younger and older kids will have an opportunity to engage the available curriculum about recycling, composting and waste reducing. We arrived with some friends in a bit of a gaggle and the museum seemed well prepared to greet us -and mentioned they receive visits from preschools, elementary schools and homeschooling families.

My kids played a nice long round of I Spy in the dump sculpture. We then had a chance to talk about other ways of dealing with trash. They played in the recycling center, where they got to make the conveyor belt go themselves and had our first introduction to composting worms. One of the staff took time to sit down on the floor with the five children we brought. Anyone who was brave enough could hold the worms. She gave a positive, age-appropriate lesson on the values of composting. I think all five kids really appreciated the attention. There were many areas to explore. My littlest boy would have happily stood in the observation deck all day, where you can watch actual trucks and dudes with trucks compacting, trash, sending recycling down the conveyor belts. It was more like living in a Richard Scarry book than anything else we have ever experienced.

I know it may seem far afield from Western MA, but the Trash Museum is 6500 feet of education and fun. It was a great afternoon. The kids were warm, busy and very engaged. For all the caregivers, it is a straight shot down I-91 and there are multiple coffee shops between here and there.

I’d love to hear from all of you. Where do you take your kids in the winter months that is fun, free – nearly free – and they don’t moan and demand more television?


Karen Bayne

Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.

%d bloggers like this: