A woman comforts a young girl during a vigil service for victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown, Conn. (Credit: AP)
11 News talked with Kidpower, a local non-profit that teaches kids about safety, to learn the best ways to talk to your kids about the shooting in Connecticut.
We spoke with Kidpower of Colorado’s executive director, Jan Isaacs Henry, who helps us often during terrible times like this.
She says even though it’s a hard topic, it’s very important to talk with kids about it, because it’s likely they’ve already heard the news.
But just as quickly, you need to reassure them about their own safety.
1. Be a safe calm person to talk to. Find out what your kids already know, but stay relaxed. It’s okay they see you as emotional, but don’t overwhelm them with your feelings that can raise their anxiety.
"Its really OK that they know that we as adults have feelings, that we're heartbroken about this, but we don't want to put too much of our feelings one our kids because that will actually raise their anxiety,” Issacs Henry said.
2. Talk about the facts, but not too many details. Too much information can overpower them emotionally.
3. Reinforce their own safety. Remind kids that school shootings are still very rare and reassure them with both words and hugs.
4. Minimize their media exposure; it can increase their anxiety. For kids, it’s like reliving the event over and over again when they see images or hear the heartbreaking stories
5. Take extra time and be patient with your kids. Kids can express themselves differently than adults.
"When they're worried or when they may be feeling depressed, it may look like they are being irritable or they may be grumpy or maybe they're not listening as much as they normally do. So when we need to patient with them, we need to understand that may be their way of expressing their concern,” said Isaacs Henry.
She adds sometimes kids can’t express their feelings with words. So perhaps try asking them to draw a picture.
11 News received some drawings during the Waldo Canyon Fire from kids in our own community, expressing themselves with pictures.
We asked Kidpower if you should talk to your really little kids about the news. Officials say parents need to use their own judgment to figure out how much your kids need to know and how much they will understand. It’s also good to realize how much they may have already heard or absorbed from conversations around them.
If you do talk about it with young children, just keep it simple and let them know they are safe and protected by adults.
It’s recommended that families stay in a normal routine over the weekend to help their kids with coping.
It’s also important for kids and adults to seek professional help if they are struggling with coping.
To learn more about how to empower your kids in the midst of traumatic situations like school shootings, visit:
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