KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) — “You’re always concerned about your kids,” Laura Brewer said while playing with her 2-year-old at the park. “You can never protect them 24/7 even if you’re with them 24/7.”
Like many other parents, she wonders what’s the best way to talk to your kids in a time of tragedy.
Doctor Laura Wheat with the University of Tennessee had some advice.
“Some kids will just come out and directly ask you questions,” she said. Especially middle school-aged kids with questions including: “How did it happen?” “Who was the shooter mad at?” And, “How did he get the gun?”
Doctor Wheat said it’s okay to tell them if you don’t know the answer.
Younger kids may not pick up on what’s going on, but they’ll see a change in adults’ reactions.
“So they’ll be sensitive to picking up on those kinds of changes,” Dr. Wheat said. “And it will make them a little more afraid themselves.”
She recommended reassuring them by saying they don’t need to worry.
If you happen to be watching television and the images from Las Vegas come up, Doctor Wheat said you can ask your kids what they think about it. But try to limit screen time in a way that doesn’t seem like a punishment.
In younger kids, experts recommended watching for nightmares, separation anxiety or a withdrawn behavior. They also recommend taking care of yourself before your kids.
Dr. Wheat said, “I think we’re all adult, and child, and teenager alike — impacted by this event.”
Experts said you can approach your teenagers and ask if they want to talk, but if not, that’s okay.