Parents wonder how to explain shootings to their kids

Pediatrician advises, start by listening to your children

Published On: Dec 14 2012 06:11:25 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 14 2012 07:03:58 PM CST
SAN ANTONIO -

In the wake of one of the worst school shootings in nation’s history, Dr. Skye Izaddoost, a local board-certified pediatrician, said many parents are wondering how to explain what’s happened to their children.

“Start by listening and ask them what they know about it,” Izaddoost said.

However, she said it’s difficult when parents themselves are having a hard time coming to terms with the tragedy.

“When we’re scared, we keep bringing it up, asking about it and asking about it,” Izaddoost said. “Sometimes that’s the wrong thing to do.”

She said, after all, children easily pick up on what their parents are feeling.

“Our anxiety and our fears can make their anxiety and fears much greater,” Izaddoost said. “We have to put on a brave face when we’re around them and cry on our own.”

The physician at North Hills Family Medicine and Pediatrics also advises limiting your child’s exposure to the disturbing images being broadcast.

“But we want to make sure we don’t lie to our kids about what has happened,” she said.

Izaddoost said parents also should be aware of any changes in their child’s behavior, nightmares, being scared of loud noises, even physical ailments like headaches and stomach aches.

“They cuddle with you more than they usually would, clinging on to you, more than they normally would,” she said.

Izaddoost said hugs can go a long way in helping your child feel safer, along with words of reassurance.

“God willing, it will never happen again. Grownups are doing what they can to keep them safe,” she said.

The Children's National Medical Center has some resources for talking to your kids about traumatic events. They are available on their websites here and here.