By NYMetroParents Staff

How to Talk to Kids About Tragedy in the News

  |  Health Advice & Tips  

After hearing about the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, your child may be feeling afraid or uncertain. Here, the American Humane Association offers 7 tips for parents and caregivers to help kids cope with tragic events and violence in the news.



worried young girl looking at phone1. Keep an eye on children’s emotional reactions. Talk to children and – just as important – listen to them. Encourage kids to express how they feel and ask if anything is worrying them.

2. Regardless of age, reassure them frequently of their safety and security, and reinforce that you, local officials, and their communities are working to keep them safe. Older children may seem more capable, but they can also be affected.

3. Keep your descriptions to children simple and limit their exposure to graphic information. Keep to the basic facts that something bad happened but reassure them that they are safe. Use words they can understand and avoid technical details and terms such as “smoke grenades” and “sniper.”

4. Limit their access to television and radio news reports because young children may have trouble processing the enormity of the experience and may believe that each news report is a new attack.
 
5. Be prepared for children to ask if such violence can occur to them. Do not lie, but repeat that it is very unlikely and that you are there to keep them safe.
 
6. Watch for symptoms of stress, including clinginess, stomachaches, headaches, nightmares, trouble eating or sleeping, or changes in behavior.

7. If you are concerned about the way your children are responding, consult your doctor, school counselor, or local mental health professional.

“Children are especially vulnerable at a time like this,” notes Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the American Humane Association, which has been working in the Denver area for several decades. “Parents, teachers, and other caregivers need to be especially sensitive to how children are reacting and help them cope with their fears and feelings. The best thing is to talk to children now and in the weeks to come to ensure they receive the attention they need in dealing with this tragedy.”

 

Also see:

How to Talk to Kids About Natural Disasters

How to Talk to Kids About 9/11

 

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