How to talk to kids about tragedy - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

How to talk to kids about tragedy

Lisa Spears of the Aspire Child & Adolescent Program Lisa Spears of the Aspire Child & Adolescent Program
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

How might your children be affected by the tragedy of the school shooting in Connecticut, and how should you talk to them about it?

While parents in Connecticut are dealing with tragedy, many parents across the country are talking to their children about what happened.

"I would definitely encourage parents to think about and consider their children's age, and their maturity, and based on that you would determine what level of information you would give them about what happened to their friends," said Lisa Spears of the Aspire Child & Adolescent Program.

Experts encourage parents to comfort their children at times of trauma, but say you shouldn't necessarily expect them to engage in the conversation.

"Reassure them and allow them to talk if they want to talk but allowing them to not say anything if they don't want to," Spears said.

Spears says fear develops very early on in a person's life, so it is important for parents to alleviate their kids fear, and be cautious not to add to it.

"If your child needs to stay out of school for a little while to process through what is going on, get them help, get them professional counseling, especially if they were right there in the school and saw some of the tragedies that went on," Spears said.

Children who have been part of a traumatic episode like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School, may experience levels of post traumatic stress disorder and experts say this is normal and parents should explain that to their kids.

"The children specifically who have been part of this tragedy will more than likely experience anxiety, some may experience depression, others will experience grief especially if they were close to some of their classmates who were killed or injured, and some of that may present itself through nightmares, you may see some of the younger children who are in kindergarten, regress to maybe some bed wetting, and those types of things."

Spears says you should skip the details and stick to the facts when explaining a tragedy to kids. Experts say one way you can help your child feel safe is to find out your child's schools safety protocol and explain that to your child.

If you'd like to express your thoughts about this tragedy or your condolences to the people of Newtown, you can join the conversation now on our facebook page.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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