Talking to kids about tragedy - WAV
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WAVY) - 10 On Your Side spoke with a family counselor about techniques parents can use to tell children about tragedies.
The movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado and other similar events can leave many young children confused.
"A tragedy like this is an intrusion into the safety of their world so its very important that parents do bring it up," licensed clinical social worker Gary Rotfus said.
How you present the event to your children depends on their ages and personalities. Rotfus says spending just a few minutes reassuring kids ages 4-6. He says children aged 7-12 know traumatic scenes like the one in Aurora are real, and know something like that could happen to them. Rotfus says you need to tell them what happened and let the facts sink in.
"They need to absorb it its not unusual for children of that age to not necessarily ask questions when you're speaking to them but maybe an hour or a day later or a week later," Rotfus said.
Rotfus says some children will be fine, while others could get clingy or nervous. If your child tends to be a worrier Rotfus says that while you should respect that, it's important for the child to know what is happening.
"It really is accurate for parents to tell kids that these kind of incidents are terrible and they don't happen very often and that there are not a lot of bad people like this around," Rotfus said.
Rotfus also sees this as a good time to talk to teens as well. He says this may take extra effort.
He suggests parents try to get teens to acknowledge the tragedy, how it affects the victims and families and that it's okay to be upset.