When a tragedy like the massacre in Las Vegas happens, it can be difficult to know what to say to your children. They may hear or see images about what happened and have questions for you.
Author Julia Cook is a national award winning children's author, counselor and parenting expert. In addition to writing, she spends time speaking to children at schools across the country. Some of her books address tough topics like school shootings.
Julia Cook offers these tips for talking to your kids about disasters whether they are natural or man-caused. She further explains them in her book, The Ant Hill Disaster.
- Remain calm and reassuring.
- Always answer a child's questions truthfully with simple answers.
- You may be asked to repeat your answers several times. Be consistent.
- Children often feel out of control when disasters occur.
- If your child asks a question that you do not know the answer to, it's OK to say, "I don't know."
- Acknowledge and normalize your children's thoughts, feelings and reactions.
- Encourage kids to talk about disaster related events on their terms.
- Reassure your child that many people out there are helping those who are hurting.
- Keep your child away from watching news stations and listening to radio where the disaster is behind discussed or replayed.
- Promote positive coping and problem-solving skills.
- Emphasize children's resiliency.
- Children who are preoccupied with questions and concerns about safety should be evaluated by a trained mental health profession.
- Strengthen friendship and peer support, and foster supportive relationships. There is strength in numbers.
- Take care of your own needs.
- Advanced preparation and immediate response will help with healing and coping.