Psychologist has tips for parents to talk with kids about tragic events
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A Kentucky psychologist is trying to help parents talk to their kids after tragic events like Monday’s deadly school shooting in Nashville.
Three 9-year-olds were among the six people killed.
“After a shooting like this, especially when closer to home, I’m going to see an increase in my practice of kids that don’t feel safe at school because it just becomes more real,” said Dr. Katherine Stone, licensed psychologist.
The Covenant School in Nashville became the latest scene of a mass shooting. It opens up the door to difficult conversations between a parent and their child.
Dr. Stone says parents shouldn’t shy away from talking to their kids about it, specifically if they’re 8 years old or older.
“Say, ‘tell me what you heard today about the incident in Nashville’ or phrase it of some people being hurt and then have them tell you what they know and then you can ask them what they feel,” said Dr. Stone.
Dr. Stone says this way, the child is who’s leading the conversation. She says when the child is done expressing their thoughts, “the most important thing a parent can do is to validate their emotions.”
Dr. Stone says incidents like these cause a lot of stress and fear in a child. She says it also leads to a very common question from parents - when does a child need to see a therapist?
Dr. Stone says if you see persistent signs in your child of things like increased irritability, increased difficulty with sleeping, increased clinginess to a parent and not wanting to do the activities they enjoy, it could be time to see a therapist.
Dr. Stone also reminds parents to look at their child’s social media feeds, if they have one. What are they seeing? What are they reading?
“We actually see the video of the shooter shooting the door and coming in. That’s really difficult to see and we know from 9/11 that repeated views of some trauma can cause a secondary trauma for yourself,” said Dr. Stone.
Dr. Stone says, clinically, she does see less fear in her clients when it comes to school shootings than she used to because of how frequently they occur.
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