NORTH JACKSON, Ohio (WKBN) – The images and stories from the Las Vegas concert shooting can be tough to see and hear, especially for children.
Hearing the stories and watching the video can be hard to process as an adult and even if your child isn’t watching the news with you, they may still see cell phone video or images on social media.
Christine Ginnis, guidance counselor for the Jackson-Milton School District, said that although kids may not be talking about it, the events can still be stressful to them. She advises parents to be honest but not graphic when talking with children. She says to start off the conversation by asking questions about what they have heard and answer any questions they have. The conversation will be different based on age, but the overall message should be that they are safe at home and school.
“If they see it and they are not talking about it, it can be even more scary to them to not know what to expect. It’s always good that if they are watching it or if they’ve been exposed to it through a friend for them to have those conversations,” Ginnis said. “A kindergartner has the ability to also understand that bad things happened and that sometimes in the world there are people that make bad choices. But again, reassuring them that they are cared about and that they have lots of people doing their best job to keep them safe.”
Other tips include (Courtesy: The American Psychological Association):
- Find times when they are most likely to talk: such as when riding in the car, before dinner or at bedtime.
- Start the conversation. Let them know you are interested in them and how they are coping with the information they are getting.
- Listen to their thoughts and point of view. Don’t interrupt — allow them to express their ideas and understanding before you respond.
- Express your own opinions and ideas without putting down theirs. Acknowledge that it is okay to disagree.
- Remind them you are there for them to provide safety, comfort and support. Give them a hug.
For older kids and teens, experts say parents can be a bit more detailed. But no matter what the age, parents should limit how much kids hear and see about the event. Too much can be overwhelming and disturbing.
Ginnis said schools will not have discussions with the students about traumatic events. They will leave it up to the parents to decide what information they share with their children, but Ginnis will be available to talk with students if they are stressed about the situation.
For more information on how to handle children and teens following a trauma go to:
- American Psychological Association
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network – Tips for young children. Tips for high schoolers.