Talking to kids about mass violence

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV)- Two mass shootings, less than 15 hours apart, is a tragedy even some adults have trouble processing. Experts say it can be even more challenging for children.

Dr. Linda Morgan with Thunderbolt Counseling Services said when it comes to school-age children, it’s not about if they know, it’s about what they know.

She suggests posing open-ended questions and really listening will help the child tell you what they need.

Thirty-one lives lost in two acts of senseless violence has some parents struggling to find the right words of comfort for their children.

“I think just inviting them to express how they feel about it is really therapeutic for them,” said Dr. Morgan.

Morgan, who works as a licensed clinical social worker, said when it comes to tackling tragedy with your child sometimes less is more.

“We as adults know that we can’t actually promise to be perfect parents and keep them completely safe but I don’t think we need to go into all those details with younger children,” said Morgan. “They want to know very simply, we love you, we are caring for you just as we always have, and we will keep you safe.”

Morgan said parents should serve as a kind-of-a buffer between their child and the media they consume.

“The kids perspective is a little broader and they certainly have lots of access to media,” said Morgan. “We need to kind of monitor that to make sure that is positive, accurate, and not inspiring more fear in them.”

As far as fear goes, well morgan says parents should put it into perspective in a way that doesn’t normalize violence and gives them control over their environment.

“As much as we can we instill in our kids the feeling that they can do something to make things better,” said Morgan. “They can from where they are standing, they can help someone else.”

Dr. Morgan said most of all, pay attention to your child’s behavior. Are they anxious? Or acting out? If so, validate those feelings and then start the conversation.

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