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Child Psychologists Urge Parents To Talk To Children About Tragedy

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People gather for a prayer vigil at St Rose Church following an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, December 14, 2012.  (credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

People gather for a prayer vigil at St Rose Church following an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, December 14, 2012. (credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

gloria neal Child Psychologists Urge Parents To Talk To Children About Tragedy

DENVER (CBS4) – Violence like the school shooting in Connecticut is unthinkable for so many of us. It’s hard getting our heads around such a horrible thing, and children really struggle with the news.

It’s a hard subject to approach, but one child psychologist says it’s important for us to talk with our children about what took place in Connecticut regardless of their age. That could be toddlers, adolescents, young adults even — and what you say depends on their age.

However, Barbara Becker with the Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network says parents should be truthful.

“How you talk to them and what you say will depend somewhat on their age as well as their development,” Becker said. “it also depends on the knowledge that they may have.

“It’s absolutely okay. If they ask a question and you don’t know the answer, tell them that you don’t know the answer. Let them know that you’re struggling with trying to figure it out; making some sense out of all of this as well,” Becker said.

Becker stresses it’s important for parents to make their children feel safe at times like these and also not to over react.

“Always be direct, don’t lie to them, give them answers based on their age in terms of how simple you keep it or how complex it is,” she said. “Knee-jerk is what we do, and it’s just one of those things that you need to be cautious so that you’re not creating that reaction in your child.”

She says it’s also important for adults to reach out to other adults whether they have children or not. She says everyone needs support.

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