TRAGEDY TALK: How To Talk With Kids

The Newtown tragedy has a lot of people asking the same questions, why did it happen? How could it happen?

WHO talked with parents outside a Des Moines elementary school.

They say for the most part, they do feel safe and their thoughts are with the victims’ families.

Dee Dee Kaiser had this to say, “I was mostly thinking about those children and their families and how horrible this is to happen before Christmas.”

Another parent, John Nixon added, “It’s a tragedy and I was worried. I have six kids and I wouldn’t want to get the phone call those parents are getting.”

As officials get more information on the shooting, experts say it`s important to reassure children that they are safe in school.

With three children and a fourth on the way, Ali Downey knows a lot about parenting but she admits she doesn’t know how to talk to her girls about the Connecticut elementary school shootings.

“What do you say? What do you say?  How do you tell them when kids their age have just been shot?  Killed.  What do you say?”

Dr. Donner Dewdney, a child psychiatrist advises, “Say you’re going to be safe.  This is not going to happen at your school. I think you have to be absolute. Even if there’s another part of you thinking ‘oh my gosh! I hope this doesn’t happen.”

Experts also say let your child set the tone of the discussion, but be prepared to answer hard questions.

The National Association of School Psychologists offers seven tips for talking with your child.

1) Reassure your child that they are safe in school. School shootings are very rare.
2) Let your children’s questions serve as a guide as to how much information to provide.
3) Keep explanations developmentally appropriate.
4) Help children identify at least one adult they can talk to if they feel threatened.
5) Observe children’s emotional state, and look for changes in behavior.
6) Limit television viewing or internet access to stories about the shooting.
7) Maintain a normal routine.

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