How to talk to children about tragic news

Published: May. 25, 2022 at 1:35 PM CDT
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(CNN) - The images are difficult for anyone, but the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, may cause fear in worry in small children who see or hear about it.

Licensed clinical psychologist Marisa Azaret said parents should first assess their own feelings.

“Is it anger? Is it despair? Is a serious anxiety, a severe anxiety? Once you do that, try to find some balance and then address your child,” she said.

Azaret said that kids of any age can be bothered by what they are seeing and that images can show up in nightmares and night terrors. She recommends monitoring what children see.

If they are too young, turn off the TV to guard against those disturbing images.

Experts said when kids see the same story, they may think the disaster is happening again and again.

“You might see regression. Children that were already toilet trained, for example, they are regressing. Children that were sleeping alone in their bedroom, they might regress and not be able to do so. So we need to be patient,” Azaret said.

If they are older, you may want to limit their time watching the news or on the internet.

Azaret said asking questions and talking to children about their worries and concerns can help them get back on track emotionally.

“Talking to them at their level in a concrete way, reassuring them, telling them that mom is here, that dad is here,” she said.

It is important to reassure children that adults in schools work hard to keep them safe.

Azaret said all children need extra love and support right now.

The American Psychological Association advises parents to seek professional help if their child is in need of more assistance.

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