NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The mass shooting in Las Vegas may be difficult for parents to explain to their children.
As CBS2’s Scott Rapoport explained, experts said there are some simple ways to address tragedies like this with your kids.
The horrifying imagery, and the sheer number of dead and injured is all anyone is talking about. Chances are if you’re a parent, your kids are going to hear about it.
So, how do you talk about this?
“It’s absolutely horrific. I can’t even imagine having to sit down and have a conversation with them honestly,” Jessica Kanfer said.
“It is very difficult,” Ava Kolleeny added.
Psychologist Dr. Harris Stratyner said it’s natural that children will be frightened by all this, and that those conversations are extremely crucial.
The most important thing you’ll need to tell your kids is that they are safe.
“To reinforce that nobody’s going to hurt you. That I’m going to protect you. Nobody is going to harm you,” he said.
For children seven and older, you can’t pretend that things like this never happen, so don’t, but be positive and encouraging.
“There are bad people in the world. Your kids need to recognize that, but there are people like police officers who are there to watch out fro youngsters and protect them,” he said.
As the news is still fresh, he said to be careful about what children under seven are watching.
“They may also feel if they see it on TV and it’s repeated, that it’s happening over and over again,” he said.
All the while let them know they can always come to talk about their feelings.
“That you’re going to be there for them, and work with them, and hear them,” he added.
Dr. Stratyner also said that when it comes to teenagers, a good thing for parents to do is directly ask them questions like, ‘what do you think about this’ or ‘how are you feeling’ to let them know you are interested.
Dr. Adam Brown, a psychologist at the NYU Langone Child Study Center, told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond that when tragedies like this strike, parents should start the conversation and keep it age appropriate.
“Many young children just want to know that you’re telling them the truth and that you’re reassuring them. They don’t need more details,” Brown said. “But if they ask, then it’s better to hear it from their parents. So you start the conversation, but you take the lead from your child.”
Parents also should not expect to have all the answers, Brown said.
“For a child who’s specifically asking, I would say, ‘Look, here’s what I know, and let’s look it up together,’” he said.
Brown also said parents should limit the amount that their children see, hear or read about the event. He said repeated exposure to graphic images is disturbing, no matter the age.