Psychologist advises openness when speaking with children about Sandy Hook shooting

Psychologist advises openness when speaking with children about Sandy Hook shooting
Monday, December 17, 2012 - 10:21pm

Speaking with kids about the Connecticut shooting can be difficult for some parents but most parents said Monday it's best to address the topic and help control the information the child receives.

El Paso Psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Richeson said most children will be exposed to the shooting at some point or another and it's a good idea to have an open conversation with kids.

"I think the best thing a parent can do is to encourage a child by saying come to me if you have any questions come to me if you have any fears," Richeson said.

She added not having that conversation can potentially be worse for a child.

"If there's any sort of gap in the information, then they are going to fill the gaps themselves and I think sometimes with what they fill it in will be much worse than what the reality is," Richeson said.

For some parents having that conversation can be difficult.

"It's always a very difficult discussion to have with your children, but you do want them to be aware that these things can happen and protect them as much as you can," said Abby Brown, parent of seven children.

Brown said her children saw the story on television and began asking question.

She said it was important to be truthful on what happened.

"With these things you can't sugarcoat it," Brown said. "You can't make it sound like it has a happy ending, these things are real and these things happen."

Richeson said you must also keep in mind how much a child can process.

"You're not going to give them a lot of details that would be frightening to them, but I think you do have to say that something like this is so unlikely to happen that they as parents will make sure they will keep them safe," she said.

Father of a 7-year-old and 8-year-old Javier Romero, said he plans on reassuring his children when he speaks with them and make them aware of gun safety.

"I'd rather it come to the surface than repress it somehow and think that it's a scary world cause it is a scary world but we are here to protect our kids," Romero said.

With most children already having been exposed to some news of the shooting, Richeson said let them take a lead in the conversation.

"Find out what they want to know, find out what they've already heard and discuss it through them and the level that they are and not to make any assumptions," Richeson said.

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