Expert suggests ways to help kids cope with tragedy - CBS46 News

Expert suggests ways to help kids cope with tragedy

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It's hard enough for adults to watch the tragedy unfold in Connecticut, but what about kids? How do adults talk with children and help them cope?

Dr. Nadine Kaslow is a professor and vice chair for faculty development in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. She is also president-elect designate of the American Psychological Association. She said in these situations anxiety is normal for adults and it's normal for kids.

"If they have a harder time sleeping, if they're worried about bad people, if they're afraid to go to school, that's normal - that's understandable. You just want to be as supportive and understanding as you can," said Kaslow.

She said children will have questions and adults need to be truthful.

"Answer their questions in a way that takes into account how old they are, how they process information. Give them information to answer their questions, don't overwhelm them, but don't tell them too little. It's a balancing act," said Kaslow.

She suggested this response if your child asks if a similar tragedy could happen at their school:

"Very unlikely to happen, this is extremely rare. We are doing everything we can do to keep you safe, our family safe, our school safe, our community safe, but sometimes people have serious problems and they act in ways that are bad," said Kaslow.

She said if a child is still fixated on the tragedy for more than a few days, parents should be concerned. Kaslow said other warning signs that the child is having trouble coping include retreating from friends, dropping grades or not wanting to go to school.

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