Talking to Kids About Tragic News

Tragic news is reported every day. Sometimes these events can cause distress to people of all ages. Although you may try to avoid having your children see upsetting reports about violence or natural disasters, you can’t always be successful. Use these resources to help you navigate a difficult conversation:

Talking to Children About Tragedies & Other News Events: What Parents Can Do

​​After any disaster, parents and other adults struggle with what they should say and share with children and what not to say or share with them.

If your child attends a Winter Park Consortium school, their CHILL counselor can help them process their feelings after a tragedy.

For tips on how to talk with your children at home, visit one of these trusted sites (links take you directly to their parent tips to talking with children about disasters and tragedies).

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Psychological Association

National Institute of Mental Health

You’re Invited! MindUp Parent Workshop

FREE Dinner and MindUP™ Parent Workshop – Offered by The CHILL Program

The CHILL program is hosting a MindUP™ workshop for parents at Lakemont Elementary, which you are encouraged to attend. During this interactive workshop you will learn about the MindUP™ curriculum and be given tools and tips on how to integrate MindUP™ into your home and family life. For Parents, MindUP™ provides new techniques to better cope with and manage the challenges of work/life stress. MindUP™ also helps parents build healthy relationships between siblings, their children and the community, and finally, between their children and themselves.

Space is limited to the first 100 adults to register.

Register now – 

Registration closes at 11:59 PM on Monday, Feb. 27.

The dinner and workshop will be held Thursday March 2, 2017 from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm at Lakemont Elementary, 901 North Lakemont Ave, Winter Park.

FREE dinner will be provided by Giovanni’s.  You must register to attend.

Childcare will be provided for school age children, with parent attendance.

About MindUP™
MindUP™ helps children enhance their self-awareness, concentration abilities, problem solving skills, and pro-social behavior while exploring positive human qualities

MindUP™ was created to help children understand the ways their minds work, how their thoughts and feelings affect their behavior, and has four goals:

1) Foster mindful focused awareness
2) Increase positive human qualities, such as empathy, perspective taking, helpfulness and kindness
3) Increase optimism and the sense of well being, while gaining resiliency traits
4) Foster a cohesive, caring classroom climate

Talking to Children about Violence

As you may have heard on the news, Winter Park High School has experienced the heartbreaking death of one of their students, Roger Trindade.  The Winter Park High School School Counselors, Winter Park Health Foundation CHILL counselors and the school’s SAFE coordinator have crisis management procedures in place to help the Winter Park High School students deal with their reactions to this tragedy.

As a parent, you may want to talk to your child about death because it impacts each person in different ways. How children react will depend on the relationships they had with the person who died, their age, level of development,  and their prior experience with death. Your child may: appear unaffected, ask questions about the death repeatedly, be angry or aggressive, be withdrawn or moody, be sad or depressed, become fearful or scared, have difficulty sleeping or eating.

Your child may have unresolved feelings that he/she would like to discuss with you. You can help your child by listening carefully, not overreacting, accepting his/her feelings and answering questions according to your beliefs. “I don’t know” is an answer too.

Points to Remember About Students During a Sudden Death Crisis

  •  Sudden death is especially difficult because there has been no time to prepare for the loss. It occurs without warning and reactions may therefore be delayed.
  • If the circumstance of the loss have also been violent, children may seem preoccupied with both the fact that the death occurred as well as how it occurred.
  • Children will experience a wide range of emotions, there is not “right way” to feel, each person has a unique response to crisis.
  • Talking about feelings in open discussions is an appropriate ways of expressing grief.
  • Life will return to normal. However it will take time and vary from individual to individual.

For additional guidance, please refer to the following documents:

Talking to Children about Violence (CHILL)

Grief Is

If your child needs to talk with their CHILL counselor, please click here.


Talking to Kids About Hurricane Matthew

Tips from the Child Guidance Center to help you talk with your children about Hurricane Matthew.

  1. Consider your own emotions about the hurricane before you talk to your kids. As adults, we can’t help kids cope with their feelings unless we have dealt with ours first. Kids look to adults to help them understand the meaning of the storm and the damage that occurred. We need to have our own emotions in check so we can be available to help our kids cope.
  2. Remember the importance of talking and listening when initiating a discussion about the hurricane.  Ask your kids what they think about the storm and ask open ended questions. “Tell me what you think about the storm. What have you talked about in school? How do you think people handled the storm and the power being out for so long? Tell me about some of the things that happened to your friends.”
  3. Timing is important. Talking during the day is usually better then talking at night. Most kids are more tired at the end of the day and have less energy to cope with heavy topics.
  4. Recognize that kids may need help putting their feelings into words. Kids may have difficulty expressing their feelings, and we can help by giving their feelings a voice. “What I hear you saying is that you are still confused and scared about the storm and you worry it may come back. Sometimes we have more than one feeling about something like this. Let’s try to figure this out.”
  5. Reassure kids about their personal safety. Some kids will have lingering fears about their safety. Let them know there are procedures in place to ensure all of our safety concerning the weather. Let them know there are experts who watch the weather, let us know if dangerous weather is coming, and there are safe places to be if needed. Reassure them that there are officials whose job it is to keep us all safe, such as police officers and fire rescue personnel.
  6. Monitor television viewing. Many networks will be showing footage of damaged areas or advertising the weather news teams.  Reassure them that what they are seeing on television happened last week, (or month), and is not happening all over again.
  7. Remember the positives. Help yourself and your kids remember that, most importantly, people are safe. Whatever damage you suffered, help your kids remember it could have been worse. Help them see that buildings can be repaired, power can be restored, but our loved ones are what is most important.
  8. Plan for a period of adjustment. It is normal for kids to show signs of trauma such as crying, clinginess, irritability, poor sleeping and eating, excessive focus or denial of the storm. Typically these behaviors resolve themselves over a few weeks. Be sure to make time to spend some extra attention on your kids to help ease the adjustment.
  9. If you are concerned about your child, talk with a CHILL counselor. Some kids may still be having a hard time adjusting even after a few weeks. If your child seems to be having prolonged difficulty, consider consulting with the CHILL counselor at your child’s school to help your child resolve their feelings.
  10. Remember hugs and support help everyone feel better.

CHILL Counselor Talks to Students about Stress Management at WPHS 9th Grade Center

Winter Park High School 9th Grade Center CHILL Counselor, Caitlin McDonald, LMHC, recently talked with students about stress management and the CHILL program.  Students learned tips to help manage their stress and when it’s appropriate to utilize the CHILL program.
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For additional tips on how to help your child manage stress, check out these past posts from Healthy Kids Today:

Help Your Child Manage Stress

Maintaining Good Mental Health

Tips to Ease Testing Anxiety

To learn more about the CHILL program, click here.


Meet Your CHILL Counselor, School Nurse, and Healthy School Team Leader

In the belief that Healthy Kids Make Better Students and Better Students Make Healthy Communities, the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) is pleased to sponsor a variety of programs aimed at tending to the mental and physical well-being of the children in our community. The programs, offered through a unique partnership with Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), fall under the umbrella of the Coordinated Youth Initiative (CYI). Programs include the School Nursing Initiative, School-Based Health Centers (staffed by Nurse Practitioners), CHILL counseling program and the Healthy School Teams (HST). They are offered in the OCPS schools serving Winter Park and surrounding communities. (These schools make up the Winter Park Consortium of Schools and include Winter Park High School and its elementary and middle feeder schools.)

School Nursing Initiative

Financial support from WPHF allows schools in the Consortium to hire either Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) who have one year of education, or Registered Nurses (RN), who have two to four years of education. All nurses must take continuing medical education classes to keep their licenses current. School nurses provide health screening, prevention and health maintenance services, as well as emergency care.  Visit, click on “Schools” then click on your school’s name to learn more about your school nurse.

School Based Health Centers

When the need exists, nurses or parents can refer students to the Consortium’s Nurse Practitioners (NP) based at Glenridge Middle School and Winter Park High School. They have master’s degrees and are able to offer more advanced care.  They are available to see children residing in Winter Park Consortium attendance zones.  They provide an important service to students whose families don’t have adequate health care coverage or access to a health care provider for their children.  Funded by WPHF, the NPs can assess, diagnose and prescribe medications and therapies for patients. Appointments are required.  Click here to learn more about the School Based Health Centers at Glenridge Middle School and Winter Park High School.

CHILL Counselors

To students, life’s problems sometimes seem too big to handle. That is why WPHF established the CHILL Program in partnership with Orange County Public Schools and its Winter Park Consortium of Schools.

CHILL—Community Help & Intervention in Life’s Lessons—is a free counseling program for students of all ages in the public schools serving Winter Park and neighboring communities who need help with issues such as divorce, grief and loss, low self-esteem, anger management and depression. CHILL Counselors focus on prevention and early intervention programs. There is no cost to students or families. Visit, click on “Schools” then click on your school’s name to learn more about your CHILL counselor.

Healthy School Teams

Healthy School Teams (HST) have been established at each of the schools in the Winter Park Consortium, and are supported financially by and with leadership from WPHF.  Each team is charged with developing programs that will inject a dose of good health into its school. The programs are as varied as the schools; creativity is encouraged.  HSTs welcome the interest of parents and businesses. If you’d like to know how to get involved and support the Teams, visit, click on “Schools” the click on your school’s name to contact your school’s HST Leader.

Healthy Kids Today

Healthy Kids Today serves as a source of valuable local health information for parents of children attending a Consortium school. It also will connect you to other websites across the Internet providing important health-related information. Visit then scroll down to “Keep in Touch” to sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest local health and wellness information for your children and family.

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Explaining Terrorism to Kids

Originally published on Common Sense Media

Shootings, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, end-of-the-world predictions — even local news reports of missing kids and area shootings all can be upsetting news for adults, not to mention kids. In our 24/7 news world, it’s become nearly impossible to shield kids from distressing current events.

Today, kids get news from everywhere. This constant stream of information shows up in shareable videos, posts, blogs, feeds, and alerts. And since much of this content comes from sites that are designed for adult audiences, what your kids see, hear, or read might not always be age-appropriate. Making things even more challenging is the fact that many kids are getting this information directly on their phones and laptops. Often parents aren’t around to immediately help their kids make sense of horrendous situations.

The bottom line is that young kids simply don’t have the ability to understand news events in context, much less know whether or not a source of information is credible. And though older teens are better able to understand current events, even they face challenges when it comes to sifting fact from opinion — or misinformation.

No matter how old your kids are, threatening or upsetting news can affect them emotionally. Many can feel worried, frightened, angry, or even guilty. And these anxious feelings can last long after the news event is over. So what can you do as a parent to help your kids deal with all this information?

For tips to help your child deal with terrorism, click here.

Need assistance helping your child cope?  Contact your school’s CHILL counselor.

Ninth Grade Center Celebrates Collaboration and Teamwork

Ginger Carter, WPHS Ninth Grade Center's teacher of the year, listen's to CHILL Counselor, Caitilan McDonald, give a presentation on happiness.

Ginger Carter, WPHS Ninth Grade Center’s teacher of the year, listen’s to CHILL Counselor, Caitilan McDonald, give a presentation on happiness.

After school, on Wednesday, March 16, staff from the Winter Park High School (WPHS) Ninth Grade Center, joined together to celebrate.  They celebrated their support person and teacher of the year.  They celebrated three quarters of collaboration, teamwork, and dedication.  Caitlin McDonald, WPHS Ninth Grade Center CHILL Counselor, gave a presentation about stress management and happiness.  54 of the WPHS Ninth Grade Center’s 65 staff members participated in this non-mandatory meeting / presentation / celebration (even during the week grades were due!).  Together, the staff shared laughs, stories, and positive messages.

Congratulations to the staff and administration at the WPHS Ninth Grade Center for celebrating these important character traits and in turn, demonstrating healthy and happy behaviors for their students.  Healthy schools are truly a team effort.


About Half U.S. Students Identify as ‘Hopeful’ and ‘Engaged’

Only about half of U.S. students are “hopeful” and “engaged” in school, while the rest are either not engaged or actively disengaged and stuck or discouraged, according to an annual Gallup Student Poll.

The findings have implications for things that range from how many students will go on to college to how many will start their own businesses, according to the poll, titled “Engaged Today — Ready for Tomorrow.”

Specifically, high school students who are engaged and hopeful are about 1.6 times more likely to report that they are headed to a two-year or four-year college after high school, compared to actively disengaged and discouraged high school students.

Visit Diverse Education to read more.

If you’re concerned about your child’s level or engagement, contact your CHILL counselor.