Processing mass shootings like the one that occurred Oct. 1 in Las Vegas can be hard enough for adults, let alone children.
Susan Swearer, Willa Cather Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology, said parents are among the best resources children have to successfully cope with attacks in the news. Swearer offered these tips as ways to help children who are worried or have questions about mass shootings or other attacks:
Watching news coverage from Las Vegas can be traumatic for children, so parents should monitor their children’s TV watching. Swearer said parents should especially make sure to limit exposure of shooting scenes to children under the age of 10.
Watching the coverage can re-traumatize individuals who have experienced gun violence.
Children will likely have heard of the shooting from friends or from the news. Parents should validate their children’s feelings and calmly reassure their children that their job as parents is to keep them safe.
Allow children time to talk and process their feelings.
If the parent is a gun owner, this is a good time to make sure that the guns are in a gun safe and to have gun safety conversations with family.
Swearer suggests these articles for more guidance:
Psychology Today: How to talk to kids about mass shootings and attacks
American Psychological Association: How to talk to children about difficult news
National Association for Education of Young Children: Resources for helping young children cope with violent events
National Association for School Psychologists: Talking to Children about Violence