Bellevue-based Youth Eastside Services has provided tips on its website for helping children cope with Friday's horrific school shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn., as well as this week's shooting at Clackamas Town Center outside Portland, Ore.
Here are the suggestions:
- Encourage children to talk about their feelings. Ask what they have seen or heard and if there's anything they're worried about. Then give them only as much information as you feel they need, and let their responses guide you.
- Let your children know their fears and emotions are okay by acknowledging their feelings while providing reassurance. Don’t minimize their concerns by telling them not to worry, especially since any subsequent incident will diminish that line of logic.
- During the heat of the crisis, keep the news off when your kids are in ear shot and try not to bring it up excessively. Even young kids absorb more than you realize, even when they don't appear to be paying attention.
- Use the news as a teachable moment when you can share your family values. For instance, you might point out the importance of helping those who are unable to help themselves.
- With older children, use the news to discuss tough issues raised in these stories, like accepting people from different religions or cultures.
- Keep the news off when your kids are in earshot and reduce talking about it when they might overhear.
For more strategies and information, visit YES' webpages.
How do you talk to your kids about situations like Friday's school shooting? Tell us in the comments section.