Parents across the country are wondering how to talk to their children about the mass shooting that took place in Texas and left 19 children and two adults dead.
Some parents are concerned they may give too little or too much information on such a horrific topic, but Bay Area experts say its important to have these conversations.
"Kind of like putting on your air mask before your child," said Dr. Michael Enenbach from the Child Mind Institute.
Dr. Enenbach advises parents to first monitor their own anxiety about the situation.
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"We as parents, we need to put on a good face," he said. "All of us are affected by this with very strong emotions and that's fine. But around your kids, you want to put on a face that 'You're safe. This is a rare thing that happens'."
Another advise for parents is to open up the conversation, provide some information about the situation and be honest, said Relational Psychotherapist Xana Cook-Milligan.
"Our children are highly intuitive," she said. "If you're speaking about something and are not sure how to, it's okay to say 'I'm not sure how to talk about this. This feels really big'."
Cook-Milligan suggests to follow the child's lead. answer questions as they have them and notice if they're getting shut down.
What about children's fear to return to school? Give them some control, Dr. Enenbach said.
"It's one of those things where perhaps it's a good idea to take a mental health day and really talk about it, how it's making them feel," he said. "It may not be a good idea to not let them go back for the rest of the year, but if it's a real problem, there are resources out there."
Experts advise parents not to be afraid to make mistakes because there isn't just one correct way to speak with kids about school shootings.
Below is a list of resources that may be helpful when talking to children about the recent events:
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers- National Association of School Psychologists
- How to Talk To Kids About School Shootings- Common Sense Media
- Responding to School Violence - Tips for Administrators- National Association of School Psychologists
- Anxiety Over School Shootings - Child Mind Institute