Helping kids cope with tragedy - FOX 13 News

Helping kids cope with tragedy

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It one of the largest mass shootings in American history and possibly one of the saddest. Twenty-six people dead in a Connecticut elementary school shooting, 20 of them young children.

A situation so tragic that President Obama, a man used to addressing the nation after horrible tragedies, had to pause to gain his composure, and was forced to wipe away tears.

So how do parents explain this horrible tragedy to their young ones?

The experts say if you don't have to, you shouldn't.

"There's no reason for them to know about this, they can't put it into perspective," said Tampa child psychologist Dr. Wendy Rice.

The reasons are simple.

"They don't understand developmentally the finality of death," said Hillsborough County Schools Psychologist Vito Ricciardi. "Five or six year old children really have limited exposure to death and violence."

But as every parent knows there are times when children learn things they shouldn't. The experts say if your young child asks you about the shooting, the first thing you should do is listen, so you can learn what they know.

"If you can find out what they know, then you can fill in the gaps as appropriate for their developmental level," said Dr. Rice.

Dr. Rice she says after you hear what your child knows the next step is to reassure them.

"You need to do a lot of reassuring and let them know the steps that their school take to keep things safe and that their school is different," said Dr. Rice.

This will help them fight any fears they may have.

It's possible every parent hugged their child nice and tight when they got home Friday

If the conversation turns to the Connecticut shooting the next thing they should do is listen...

"We want to get the feelings out because if they keep the feeling inside and they keep the fear and sadness inside that's when it can turn into something bigger," said Dr. Rice.

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