COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Following the tragic school shooting in Florida, many parents are struggling with how to talk to their children about what happened. Kids might have a lot of questions about their own safety, too.
Medical director of psychiatric emergency services at Riverside Methodist Hospital Dr. Megan Schabbing said you shouldn’t avoid talking about the topic with your child.
“They’re going to hear it from someone and if they hear it from someone other than you, then you can’t control how they may react or how they feel, you can’t support them and you can’t make sure that they’re hearing the truth,” she said.
Dr. Schabbing said anytime you talk to your child about something traumatic, be direct and avoid excess details.
“First and foremost I would start out by saying, ‘What have you heard?’ So, right off the bat, you want to clear up any kind of misinformation that you kids may have gotten from peers,” she said.
But, it also depends on how old your son or daughter might be.
“In general with younger children, really try to avoid exposing them directly to any kind of graphic images,” she said. “Younger children should not be watching these events live or snapshots of these events on the news.”
Dr. Schabbing said it’s okay to watch the news with your teenagers. She suggests recording the news ahead of time, so you can pause it at certain points and open it up for discussion.
“Give them the opportunity to ask questions and that way you can kind of screen the news ahead of time for content and sort of make sure you know what you’re getting into before you watch it with them,” she said.
If your child is afraid to go to school, she said empower yourself with information about the school’s safety and security plan, so you can go over it with your kids. If they’re still having trouble, she said it may be time to reach out to a counselor or therapist.
Dr. Schabbing said it’s also important to be aware of what your child is doing on social media.
“Limit the screen time, be aware of what they’re looking at and keep those communication lines open with them in terms of what they’re seeing and what they’re being exposed to on social media,” she said.
For more information on this topic and more talking points to go over with your child, check out this website from the American Academy of Pediatrics.