Expert: Ask kids what they know about tragic events

(Photo: Jirka Matousek/Flickr Commons)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — No matter how hard you try to shield your kids, there is a chance that they have, more than likely, seen photos and video from the shooting rampage in San Bernardino.

Wednesday’s deadly shooting in California comes more than two weeks after the terror attacks in Paris and less than one week after a fatal shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

Sarah Kelly-Palmer, Sr. Clinical Administrator at Family Service of RI, spoke to Eyewitness News Thursday on the best ways to talk to your kids about traumatic events

According to Kelly-Palmer, it is normal for kids to feel anxious and a little confused about the whole situation.

“For very young children that probably don’t know much, it’s best to protect and shield them from what’s going on,” Kelly-Palmer said.

“But for school-age children and adolescents, you want to check in and see what facts they know. Sometimes kids don’t necessarily have the accurate facts or they have info that’s not really helpful to them and can be scary to them. So as a parent you want to check in, and correct those misunderstandings and misconceptions in an age-appropriate way.”

Kelly-Palmer said it is important to highlight the positives things that happen during the scary situations, such as all of the police officers and first responders who stepped in to help victims.

“You can let them know that this really bad thing happened, but I think one way to help them feel less scared or less anxious is to point out some of the good things that happened after the event,” she said. “So for example, all of the police helpers and first responders who went in and helped the wounded and helped people escape, and helped lead people to safety. That can really be comforting to children.”

If you are having trouble starting the conversation, experts say books like “A Terrible Thing Happened” can help.

See our full interview with Sarah Kelly-Palmer here.

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