How To Talk To Your Kids About CT School Shooting [AUDIO]
The Newtown, Connecticut school shootings that left twenty-six dead, many of them young children, has left many parents nationwide struggling to figure out what to tell their children.
Pediatric Trauma & Anxiety Specialist, Rhonda Martin says it's important to reassure children that they are safe when they go to school and to consider the age of the child when discussing details.
"If they are children ages 3-10 you want to be very concrete with it, explain to them how rare it is, tell them that they should not feel worried or scared going back to school."
"You can encourage younger children to draw a picture or paint to express their feelings as well," she added.
Martin says a general rule of thumb is if the child is old enough to ask the question, they deserve an age-appropriate answer.
"If they are older children, adolescents, you can answer their questions, but feel comfortable enough to say 'I don't know' if they ask why the shooter did this or why all the kids had to die."
But parents also need to stay calm when talking to children about the situation.
"Kids react to adults and how they are feeling, so if your child sees you upset they will be upset."
She also advises parents to limit children's exposure to television and social media in the aftermath of such events.
"While it is sometimes unavoidable to completely turn off the tv, parents should turn it off as much as possible, especially when young children are around because it may heighten a child's fear or anxiety," said Martin.
For kids who are concerned about school safety, have them review safety procedures.
"Tell them to go over what they have been taught in school, where do they go in an emergency, etc. If they can review the plans with you, they are likely to feel more at ease about going to school."
Martin says the main thing is to give your children extra time and attention and help them return to a normal routine.
"In some kids these events will take time to recover, other kids will be back to normal the next day. Parents should talk to their kids, listen and act based on age."