Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Helping children cope after a tragedy

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Helping children cope after a tragedy
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Hours after learning about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, many people are still trying to make sense of it all, including your children. It won't be an easy conversation to have. But our Iris St. Meran spoke with a psychology professor about where you can start.

UNITED STATES -- The news out of Newtown was hard for most people to hear. Twenty children, six adults killed in a shooting at their elementary school. Now come the questions. The biggest is why. And they may be coming from your own children.

Le Moyne College Associate Psychology Professor Shawn Ward says listening to them can help you with the answers.

"See what they're saying, what they're thinking about it. There's a technique called reflective listening where we want to make sure that they feel that they're heard. Some children are going to have questions, some children are not," Ward said.

Allowing them to watch the news is at the parent's discretion. But Ward says in the coming days, you should make sure you're on the same page with your child's school. See what their policies are and how they plan on addressing this situation.

"Try to be consistent with your messaging, so you don't contradict what they hear at school," said Ward.

Ward also says the impact may not be seen this weekend or even next. He suggest keeping a close watch in the coming weeks, watch for changes in eating and sleeping habits and if they appear to be more clingy.

"Pay attention to our children. You don't have to bother them, keep asking them questions, but check in and listen to what they have to say,” Ward added. “What conversations are they having?"

He also says if you are emotional about this, that's okay too. It's best to be honest about your feelings and share the facts. Find some balance and avoid under- and overstating the situation.

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