How to talk to your children after tragic events

Posted: 10:44 PM, Feb 15, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-16 04:44:27Z

After devastating school shootings like the one in Florida, many parents wonder how to talk to your children about tragic events.

Dr. Tracy Siebers, Clinical Director with the Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley Inc. recommends letting children take the lead. Ask them what their questions are before giving your opinion.

“You have to say what's going on? What are you feeling? Why are you thinking about that? And start to assess that as a parent,” said Dr. Tracy Siebers. 

Siebers explained, it really depends on the child's age and maturity level.  

“If you share with a 6-year-old what you would with a 14-year-old, that may cause them an increase of distress rather than a relief of the stress and what you're trying to do it relieve their distress,” she said.

Also, encourage your kids to feel their feelings.

“The most common response to anxiety is to avoid or escape,” said Dr. Siebers. “So most kids are going to want to go away and not go to school or usually that's going to be the most common reaction.”

Don’t make promises you can't keep, instead, assure them.

“Start talking to them about that and to talk about who is there to protect them, to keep them safe, both at school and at home,” said Dr. Siebers. 

Health experts say the most important thing you can do is what you're already doing -- loving your kids and showing you're there to support them.