DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - When a tragedy of the magnitude of a school shooting that takes lives, how do you talk to the kids?
According to the American Psychological Association, do just that.
Experts advise parents talk and listen to their children. Psychologists tell parents to be honest and acknowledge that bad things do happen, then reassure their children that people are working and committed to keeping them safe, including their parents, teachers, and local police.
How do children communicate:
- Young children may communicate their fears through play or drawings.
- Elementary school children will use a combination of play and talking to express themselves.
- Adolescents are more likely to have the skills to communicate their feelings and fears verbally
Adults should be attentive, but also try to help the children put their fears into proportion to the real risk.
Experts advise parents and adults to limit a child's exposure to news coverage. Research has shown that some young children believe the events are reoccurring each time they see a television replay of the news footage.
They also said parents need to be aware of the warning signs. A change in a child's school performance, changes in relationships with friends and teachers, excessive worry, school refusal, sleeplessness, nightmares, headaches or stomachaches, or loss of interest in activities that the child used to enjoy could indicate a problem.
Psychologists remind that every child will respond to trauma differently. Some will have no ill effects; others may suffer an immediate and acute effect. Still others may not show signs of stress until sometime after the event.
Most children are quite resilient and will return to their normal activities and personality relatively quickly.