How do you talk to your kids about tragedy? -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

How do you talk to your kids about tragedy?

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After Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, many parents face the issue of how to talk to their kids about what happened.

In Tyler, Caldwell Elementary School parents like Adam Perez know they have a lot of questions to answer for their kids>

"She was telling me that she can't believe that there's people out here like that," Perez said of his sixth grade daughter. "I said, 'Yeah.' She was just telling me awhile ago that 'Can it happen here too Dad?' She was telling me, 'Dad, can it happen here?' And I said, 'Yeah, it can happen anywhere.'"

"What will you tell your kids?" I asked Christen Johnigan of Tyler, whose children are in the third and fourth grade.

"I have no idea," she said. "Really don't even know  I don't even think they know. But we will definitely talk to them when we get home. I'm just, I don't even know."

Tyler counselor Wade French says the most important thing you can do to help your kids make sense of what happened in Newtown is to increase your "contact time" with them over the next few days.

"Maybe a little more touching, a little more reassurance," French said. "If they want to talk about this, let them talk about it. Listen to it and explain to them that sometimes bad things happen and we can't always know when they're going to happen, but usually we can protect ourselves."

French says it's important for your kids to know they are loved and safe.

"And letting them talk," he said. "If they saw something, they may tell you I'm scared. Well, tell me what you're scared about. Talk to me about your being scared. And let them unwind that stuff."

French recommends that parents of younger children let their children initiate a conversation about the shootings so they get the reassurance they need - and he doesn't recommend any child under the age of 11 or 12 watch any news coverage of the event.

"The finality of this is not real to them. I don't think it's a good idea to let them watch something like this," French said. "You can certainly acknowledge it to them. More than likely, they'll acknowledge it to you."

French says it's especially hard for parents to explain a random crime, like this one, to young children. He tells parents to spend a lot of time with their kids and remind them of the positive things in their lives.



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