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Posted: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 9:47 am

Dr. Lorrie Henderson, CEO of Jewish Family & Children’s Service in Phoenix, offers tips for parents on how to discuss the recent school shooting with their children.

  • The most important thing is acknowledging their fear. Don’t dismiss them or make them feel like they can’t come to you with concerns. “You want to make sure that they feel acknowledged and that you’re willing to discuss it.”
  • Address concerns in an age-appropriate manner. You wouldn’t talk to your teen the same way you would talk to a third-grader.
  • It is typically best to limit the news for younger children, as there are many scary images and stories they don’t need to be exposed to or know how to cope with.
  • If younger children haven’t heard about the shooting, it’s probably best not to inform them about it as it might initiate concerns they didn’t already have.
  • If they do bring it up, address it and be honest. Discuss what they can do to be safe and what the schools are doing to help. Also let them know they should follow directions from their teacher should a problem occur at their school.
  • Teens will likely have heard about it through social media or from friends, so a discussion about the information they’ve heard can be helpful to make sure it’s accurate.
  • Advice for everyone is “If you see something, say something.” Report activity that doesn’t seem right to you. “In these times, unfortunately, you’re better off erring on the side caution,” Henderson said. “It’s safest to go ahead and report it.”
  • Check in daily with your children to see if they have any concerns.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  • Make a family plan of what to do in a crisis.

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