BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Another mass shooting, 19 children dead. The sinking feeling is all too familiar, especially for parents, but communicating these tragic events with your children while processing yourself can be complicated.
Licensed Professional Counselor Anita Lopez said when talking to kids about tragic events it’s important to create a safe space for open dialogue.
“It’s scary as a parent and I think it’s scary for kids too, for sure,” said Lopez. “Parents typically know their kids and know their maturity level and as far as ages goes, we know with other big topics, we know about age-appropriate conversation.”
Lopez said parents have to first process their own emotional responses to avoid projecting possible fears on their children.
“You don’t want your kids to be afraid of living life,” said Lopez. “All kids are different and so they’re going to have different feelings and different interpretations and different thoughts. Validate your kids feelings and just show up, make the space.”
Lopez also recommends keeping explanations simple and letting your kids’ questions and feelings guide the conversation. She also said it’s okay for parents not to have all the answers for their children at the moment.
“The things to normalize with kids is their emotions about abnormal events, that it does keep happening doesn’t mean it’s normal,” said Lopez. “Validating feelings is not the same as validating a thing that happened or a thing that someone does, it’s two different things.”