Expert advice when talking to children about Las Vegas shooting

The images from Las Vegas have horrifying and disturbing, and troubling to everyone. Imagine children trying to make sense out of this.

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- Experts advise parents to pay attention to their child’s comments and actions before discussing the details of the Las Vegas shooting.

Dr. Allan Josephson, the CEO of Bingham Clinic and a University of Louisville professor of psychiatry and psychology, said it’s important to read your children’s attitude before bringing up what happened. He said if they seem stressed, upset or anxious about the event it would be appropriate to discuss the details.

He also said many children may not know about it or bring it up, and in that situation, it is best for the parent to let it be.

"The child that's bothered by it will show it in some way. Through questions or an emotion and that's when a parent needs to respond," Josephson said.

When starting the conversation, Josephson said, make sure the child knows they are safe. He said then the parent should explain what happened.

Age is also an important factor when discussing something like this. Josephson said children 10-years-old and under likely won’t need a detailed explanation but instead, reassurance.

But because of social media children, teenagers have more access than ever before to information that can be hard for them to digest.

"Teenagers begin to think of the world in more complex ways so the idea of violence, evil, guns being available, all these topics that get debated, a teenager may want to discuss some of that and a parent should be willing to discuss that," Josephson said.

He said a parent's tone and delivery is a crucial part of the conversation, staying calm and reassuring will go a long way.

"The parents are the eyes through which children see the world and children, if you have a trusting relationship, will come to you if they're hurting, confused, scared and so forth. And that's a wonderful opportunity for a parent to explain that they're safe and this is an aspect to the world that's unfortunate," Josephson said.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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