How to talk with your children about difficult topics in the news

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – In the wake of another mass shooting, families are once again having difficult conversations with their kids.

“My 6-year-old is still, like, not sure what’s going on, but my oldest, who will be a fourth grader this year, she has questions like, ‘Why? Why would someone kill kids, like, that’s sad,” local mom Tiffany Back said.

There is no perfect way to explain what is going on in the world right now to your child. But having open conversations honestly and age-appropriately is key.

“Well, I think it’s just really important to be a good listener and help your child understand your emotions as well as their own,” said Dr. Dave Miers, the director of behavioral health services at Bryan Medical Center. “Kids are very sensitive, and so it’s very important that we’re honest but also breathe, and what I mean by that is it’s important for our children to understand feelings, and talking about them helps.”

Once you have that talk, it’s important to keep your eye on them and make sure they’re digesting the complex conversation.

“I think the really important thing is to just make sure you’re watching for clues,” said Kathy L’Heureux, an elementary school counselor at Lincoln Public Schools. “Sometimes let their questions be your guide”

She recommends providing an activity like coloring or puzzles to younger kids while you talk with them.

From there, work to create a strong sense of community. Research shows that the more connected a child feels, the safer they feel.

Experts recommend having a family gathering or inviting friends over.

“That actually helps a child feel safer when you have more people around, and that gives more resources for that child to talk to and to bounce ideas off,” Miers said.

Educators say that after a tragedy, it’s also important to keep them away from the screen as best you can.

Some kids can have a difficult time processing the news on TV and social media, and “it can also be triggering for some students who have been through past traumas,” L’Heureux said.

As a parent, sometimes you don’t have all of the answers, so it’s important to know there are plenty of resources available.

Here’s one place to start.

Categories: Education News, Lancaster, News, Top Stories