How to talk to your kids about tragedy - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

How to talk to your kids about tragedy

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A nightmare come to life.  A gunman opens fire in a Connecticut elementary school Friday morning, leaving 20 children dead and others injured.  "Evil visited this community today," says Governor Dan Malloy of Connecticut.

So many unanswered questions remain, but one many parents will face immediately...what do I tell my kids?

"If kids don't talk about it and have an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings, then they can sort of fester," says Dr. Janis Woodworth.

Dr. Woodworth is the clinical director at Toledo's Harbor Corporation.  She says each child deals with stress differently, but recommends parents keep open communication at all times.  "Give your kids a chance to talk about it, even if it's very uncomfortable to bring it up," says Woodworth. "They know more than we think they do."

Health professionals say it's not uncommon to see a loss of appetite, sleeping problems, or a fear of school shortly after this kind of traumatic situation.

"After a matter of time if kids are continuing to experience those problems, then having them evaluated by a professional would be important."

While caring for kids, parents may neglect their own mental needs.  Dr. Woodworth says finding a support system for mom and dad is just as important as caring for the little ones.

"Parents need to understand that fear and anxiety about the safety of their children is a normal reaction to something like this," Woodworth tells 13abc.  "This was truly a terrible event."

Health professionals suggest reaching out to local schools, churches and organizations for resources on how to address this with children.  You can find some of those resources at:

www.childmind.org

http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/terror_general.aspx

http://www.churchleaders.com/children/childrens-ministry-how-tos/132863-helping-children-deal-with-tragedy.html

http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/coping-with-disaster/helping-children-handle-disaster-related-anxiety

 

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