OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Explaining what happened at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Friday to your kids isn’t going to be easy.
The images hard to see. Young children are crying, and holding hands, being escorted away from a mass shooting inside their school.
“To have the sanctity of that very special safe environment violated in such a traumatic way, again, is very difficult and painful and traumatic for all of us,” said Dr. Ken Sonnenschein, a child psychologist with the Kansas City Psychiatric Group.
School-aged children might ask their parents what happened at the school and why. Sonnenschein said children are first going to be concerned about the safety of themselves and their family.
He said as a parent or guardian, provide reassurance that they’re safe.
“Maybe even for some kids, if they need us to tuck them in at night even if they’ve gotten out of that routine, even sleep in their parents bed for a short period of time. Whatever provides them that sense of reestablishing that safety,” Sonnenschein said.
He also said be more patient than usual, in case there is some increased emotional expression from your child. Sonnenschein said it would also help to keep doing things as they’ve always been done.
“To help that child know through that maintenance of a routine, that life for them will go on in a regular way,” he said.
Other mental health experts give more advice. They said encourage children to talk about their concerns, talk honestly about your own feelings, discuss and create safety plans and seek help when necessary.
Pediatricians are also advising parents to keep children away from too much coverage of the mass shooting.
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