Ali RosenOct 2, 2017, 8:53 pmOct 3, 2017, 10:13 am

Expert advice on how to explain the Las Vegas shooting to kids

Here’s what you should say to children after a horrific tragedy, according to a psychologist


With information more accessible than ever, many parents may wonder how to address tragedies with children

For four-year-old Nakelle, the most exciting part of her day was learning the letter A, but for many of us, our lives aren't that simple.

“I didn't share with her, I think it’s too heavy. It's too heavy for a four-year-old and because it didn't affect her directly it was unnecessary to share,” said Nakelle’s mother Kassandra Mindingall.

The White Plains native said she did not discuss the mass shooting in Las Vegas with her four-year-old but her nine and eighteen-year-old kids do know what happened.

“They asked probably the same questions that we all did like, what prompted, what goes on in your life that says OK I'm going to go and shoot up the place,” Mingingall said.

Dr. Rand Gruen, executive director of Westchester Child and Adult Psychological Services, says it's important to bring up the topic to your child even before they bring it up to you.

“You can ask your kids for example, ‘have you heard about what happened in Las Vegas?’ If they say no, you can say, ‘there was a shooting in Las Vegas and a lot of people got hurt,’ Dr. Gruen said. “If they say ‘yes’ then you say, "what have you been told about Las Vegas?’ And get a sense of what they've been told and then you can ask them, ‘how do you feel about what happened? Does it worry you, are you concerned, do you worry about your own safety?’”

In our lives, the tragedies are all too frequent, from hurricanes to earthquakes and mass shootings.

So how can a parent make sure their child is informed but not in fear?

“Give them a sense that yes, terrible things in the world happen, but they’re not consistent, they don't extend over time, they're not every day. Things will get better and we will survive,” Dr. Gruen advised.

As for how adults should cope with what happened, Dr. Gruen suggests talking to friends, neighbors, colleagues, don't keep your emotions inside.

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