Experts say kids may have just as many questions about the incident as adults and parents have to be prepared to answer those.
Chip Studwell, Ed.D. is the Director of Counseling Services at Bridgewater College. He says, "They don't always understand it and can't always express it in the same way we do as adults, but it doesn't mean they're not having a response or reaction."
Studwell is talking about kids exposed to traumatic events such as the DC sniper shootings. He says talking about the situation is fine, but you should realize that your mood can quickly influence the outlook of your child. He continues by saying, "As parents we have to understand that our children are using us as a barometer for the sense of concern in the situation."
That's why you need to be comfortable talking about the situation before trying to talk about it with your child. Mary Strate Bahn is a licensed clinical psychologist for Newman Avenue Associates. She says, "If you have anxiety as a parent you need to be very cautious about that being transferred to your child and if you really are struggling then you can go see a counselor to help deal with that."
Bahn says you can also remind your child that most people aren't like the sniper. She says, "It's because you want children to still trust humans and still trust that people are good and I think you need to be careful to say this (the sniper) is someone who is very confused or not thinking clearly because most people don't behave that way. "
Bahn also says it's a good idea to limit your child's exposure to reports about the shootings. Experts say communication is the key.
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Talking to Kids About Fear and Violence
Recent acts of violence in the Washington, D.C metropolitan area and the resulting intense media coverage bring safety issues to the forefront for all of us. However, children, in particular, may experience anxiety, fear, and a sense of personal risk. They may also sense anxiety and tension in adults around them. Knowing how to talk with your child about violence will play an important role in easing fear and anxieties about their personal safety.
To guide parents through discussions about fear and violence, the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) offers the following suggestions:
Source: http://www.nmha.org (National Mental Health Association Web site) contributed to this report.