Making sense of heartbreak to children


CHESHIRE, Conn. (WTNH) – Parents are essentially therapists at home — hearing and addressing their children’s concerns.

But with mass shootings frequently in the headlines, many are indeed challenged by the realities of life.

Open gunfire. Multiple deaths. More frequent in everyday life. Societal issues — challenging parents daily.

Keeping it real can help when it comes to easing your child’s anxiety.

“Try to come to the understanding, I get you that you are upset. Be real with them. I’d be scared too. This is a frightening situation. It’s scary. It’s sad as well,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Ryan Loss at Connecticut Behavioral Health.

With social media, he says expect kids of all ages are exposed at some level.
He recommends that parents get ahead of the game, asking them what they know.

Dr. Loss says, “You want to listen to what they have to say. Pay attention to inaccuracies that may come up and try to clarify in age appropriate language.”

Address personal safety head on.

“They may ask, especially the younger ones, am I safe? And there’s a sense of reality to say, overall, we do live in a safe society but is there a chance that this may happen, unfortunately there is and these are the things we have in place to keep things safe.”

Underscore the positives.

“Highlight how well police responded to an action. How well the doctor has worked to save the individual, the paramedics were on site.”

Be prepared to answer the question of — what to do if caught in a violent situation.

“What have you learned? There are things there are in place in school. Here at home, if there is an issue that comes up, here’s what you can do.”

And be patient.

Dr. Loss explains, “They may experience a decent amount of anxiety which could result in irritability, they maybe less attentive because they are worrying and thing about these things.”

Dr. Loss says when talking with adolescents and older — you can use more adult terms. With younger ones — just enough language to clarify what happened and what’s being done to keep them safe.

If needed, be sure to consult with trained experts like Dr. Loss.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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