Local experts give advice on how to explain tragedies to children

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Tragic events like the mass shooting in Las Vegas has many parents wondering how to communicate what happened to their children.

The clinic director at ECU said the first thing is to know what your kids are hearing and seeing.

The next step is to talk to them about it.

Ask them what they think and feel.

Make sure you are honest with them and explain what is going on in an age-appropriate way.

Some things may not  be suitable for toddlers to see. You can talk more openly with teenagers who have a better idea of what is going on.

Dr. Erin Roberts said it is okay for parents not to have all the answers and explain to their children that sometimes, bad things just happen.

“A parent knows their child and are the best to know what’s going to affect them.,” Roberts said. “If you start to see your child become like more withdrawn or panicky or anxious, you might want to just check it and see what they have been seeing. Ask them, what do you think, you know how do you feel?”

Roberts said to listen intently and note any changes in the child’s mood or behavior.

“Ask them which details they have seen and what that made them think and feel when they saw those things,” Roberts said. Reassure them too. I think it’s important for parents to reassure them that they are going to do their best to protect them in any way.”

Roberts also said it is important for parents to have self-awareness.

Sometimes, current events can make people feel anxious or depressed, which is then passed along to their kids.

She says parents need to be aware of the conversations they have with other adults around their children.

Kids are very receptive regardless of how young they are, and what they hear may affect them.

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