Talking to your kids about a mass shooting

Posted at 6:36 PM, Oct 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-02 18:56:21-04

Dealing with the news of any kind of death and violence is tough enough for adults. For children, even more so. After the deadly shooting attack in Las Vegas - in which police say Stephen Paddock, 64, killed more than fifty people and injuring hundreds of others at a music festival - a Naples psychologist has some practical advice for talking to kids about the tragedy.

"The child needs to hear it's going to be all right," said Eva Smidova, who counsels children and families. "

She said parents should talk to their kids ages seven and older about tragic shootings, even if the children don't ask about it.

"What I would like to know, 'are you getting that? Do you understand what happened?'" Smidova said. "Put it in the moral context."

For kids under seven, she said parents mainly need to calm any fears.

"The child wants to hear that mom and dad are making everything all good," she said. "That's all that matters."

Smidova said that news stories about first responders and other crisis managers can be good for older children to digest, but that they might have a harder time dealing with personal stories of shooting victims.

"When we go deeper (into those) stories, children are not taking that easy," she said. "It's a very emotional thing."

For more advice on talking to kids about mass shootings and other tragedies, click here.