How to talk to kids about mass shootings and other tragedies

(Note: This story was first published in 2016 after the Pulse Nightclub shooting)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With everyone talking about the mass shooting in Orlando and the latest developments playing out on television, your children may be asking questions about the violent attack.

Sarah Kelly-Palmer, a senior clinical administrator at Family Service of Rhode Island, specializes in talking to kids about tragedy. According to her, how you go about talking to your kids about the nightclub massacre is crucial.

“We can ease some of their anxiety and worry by talking to them in a way that encourages them that there are people out there to help keep us safe,” Kelly-Palmer explained. “Even when a horrible thing happens, there are people that respond.”

Kelly-Palmer said you can’t expect to hide these types of tragedies from your children.

“I think the one thing parents don’t know is how tuned in kids are to their parents’ conversations,” she said.

It’s also important to keep in mind that every child is different, according to Kelly-Palmer.

“So for that child that’s a little more anxious, they might need a little more attention, some more snuggles,” she added. “Those kids who get kind of angry, they might need to vent and talk more to you about the event that happened.”

Learn more about coping with tragic events on Family Service of Rhode Island’s website.

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