With 27 people confirmed dead at the hands of a gunman who unleashed fire today at an elementary school in Connecticut, the nation is again reeling with news of an unthinkable tragedy.
And while the mass shooting continues to fuel ongoing conversations about gun control and mental illness, the day’s events have also spread widespread bewilderment through the hearts of parents, teachers and guardians around the country.
Shaken by the news and newly fearful for the safety of their children in public places, many adults may wonder how to talk about what happened with the kids they care for.
One of the best things to do, experts say, is to keep your message simple and reassuring.
“If a kid asks a question, just answer the question,” said Michael Brody, a child psychiatrist in Silver Spring, Maryland, who teaches on children and the media at the University of Maryland. “Don’t go into multiple elaborations.
“Some parents say it’s like an earthquake or a nuclear explosion, but that gets the kid’s mind racing,” he added. “Some say, ‘This is a very unusual thing to happen,’ and that’s really the right response. That’s what they want to know.”
Young children have limited resources for understanding events like this and they may be easily frightened. So, no matter how upset you are or how much you want to talk about the shooting yourself, Brody said, do your best to avoid discussing it in front of your kids if they are in their preschool or early elementary years. And leave the TV news off.
If your kids hear about it and bring it up, answer their questions…
Read more: Emily Sohn, Discovery News