While adults await the latest information on the tragedy of an elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, Dr. Michael Brown at East Carolina University said it is best for parents to be mindful of the media their children consume. He shared that and other pieces of advice on talking tragedy at home.
"This is always difficult to say, but make sure you as a parent aren't putting your worries on your child," said Brown, a professor of psychology at ECU. "Many children are not going to have any particular awareness of this situation."
Brown added as the situation is removed from our area, parents sympathize with parents in Connecticut. However, children of the same age as the victims there will not make that instant connection.
"The first thing parents want to do is put themselves in place of the parent of the child in Connecticut," said Brown. "So first off, remember this isn't happening here; this isn't happening to you or your child. You have to be calm so your child can be calm."
Brown added limiting your child's exposure to the story will likely curb their concern. If safety concerns arise, Brown said it is best to assure your child their school is a pretty safe place and that things like the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary are rare.
Brown said if your child has questions, it is best to answer them, but in a way appropriate for their age and comprehension level. As children may not have more of an awareness of the situation immediately, watch for changes in behavior such as sleep habits or communication. Changes in those behaviors may signal a child's concern. In that situation, Brown said the best answer is a question: "What are you thinking about?"
For more information on helping children understand and cope with the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, visit www.nasponline.org.