Talking to your child about tragedy in the news

The shootings across our country have left families in shock as they struggle to make sense of the tragedies. Many children are also asking their parents questions.

So, what’s the best way to talk to them about what happened?

“Really thinking about approaching those conversations, especially with elementary-aged and older kids and saying like, ‘Hey what do you know about what just happened?’, because that way you’re meeting them where they’re at. You’re not providing them with more information than what they already know,” said Marilyn Sampilo, PsyD, psychologist for Cleveland Clinic Children’s.

Dr. Sampilo said if your child is under the age of seven, there’s really no need to have a conversation about what happened, unless they had some kind of direct involvement or have been exposed to information about it.

However, if your child is on the older side, then it would be okay to have a more in-depth discussion and see how they’re feeling.

Speaking of feelings, Dr. Sampilo said there’s nothing wrong with being vulnerable in front of your kids, just as long as you’re also showing them healthy ways to cope. For example, taking some deep breaths.

Finally, she recommends limiting your child’s exposure to the media.

“I want to be really intentional about limiting exposure, so not just limiting you know having them watch news coverage or TV, but even if you just have it on in the background and you think the kids are playing and think they’re doing something, they are still likely taking in that information,’ she explained.

Dr. Sampilo said it’s also important for parents to pay attention to any changes in their child’s behavior due to what happened. If they seem quieter or withdrawn, it might be a sign they’re having a hard time.

Source: Cleveland Clinic News Service

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