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How to talk to your child about the tragedy in Boulder

Posted at 5:52 AM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 08:49:39-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — When mass shootings occur, parents are faced with the task of having to explain the violence to their children.

There's no "one" way to address tragedies with children, and how parents approach it depends both on the child's age and maturity.

The American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend avoiding the topic with children until they reach a certain age — around 8, but again, it depends on the child.

"We have a sense of normalcy and then we're reminded normalcy includes tragedies," explained Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Elizabeth Sather.

After parents decide whether or not your child is old enough, experts recommend asking them what they have heard or seen and if they have any questions. For younger children in elementary school, it is better to keep the information simple and reassure them that they are safe.

For tweens and teens, ask them how they are feeling. Listen to their thoughts about what has happened in Boulder.

"These are the types of things where you don't feel like you have any control at all," explained Dr. Carl Clark, CEO of the Mental Health Center in Denver. "I think what happened in Boulder is a good example of that."

Experts also recommend limiting access to news of the event, including on television and on social media. It's possible your child may begin to worry about their safety, and maybe hesitant to go to a grocery store. It's important to validate those fears, but still emphasize that such attacks are rare.

Keeping a normal routine can also help, and if your child's anxiety gets worse, seek professional help.

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