Expert suggests children lead talks on tragedies

Posted at 11:35 AM, Dec 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-04 12:35:16-05

Following mass shootings, such as the event in San Bernardino on Wednesday, a Tulsa psychologist said the conversations a parent might have with their children can be difficult. 

Dr. Julie Powell Thomas recommends parents avoid forcing a conversation.

"There are certain things we can talk to them about, like don't run across the street or talk to strangers," Thomas said. "But these kinds of things are really hard for parents and it makes their anxiety increase."

At her practice, Tulsa Family Development Center, she suggests parents let their child take the lead on conversations about tragic events. 

"If it is not brought to your attention and it is not in their reality zone, I don't think you need to go, 'Hey there was a shooting,' and so on," Thomas said. "I don't think you do that as a parent."

If your children do come across images from a mass shooting, or other deadly event, Thomas said you might want to only give them enough information to answer their questions.

"Sit down and say, 'what's worrying you about it?' Taking the lead from your child, that is really the best way of going through a lot of these kinds of questions," Thomas said. 

With the most gruesome images from tragedies often popping up online, parents should watch what websites their children are visiting and what social media accounts they're following.

"You want your child to appropriately be in a world where, at their age group, they don't have to fear anything that they aren't ready to understand," Thomas said. 

Depending on what your child asks and if it is clear they have already seen the reality of what took place, Thomas recommends you help your child understand what they saw without raising their anxiety.

"This is the kind of world we live in," Thomas said. "We can't protect everyone from that and we have to inoculate kids to some degree that we will talk about this and it is what it is. But you're safe here. You're safe at our house. We will take care of you and protect you best we can."


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