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Talking to Kids About Tragedy

Many parents now have to face tough conversations about what happened Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.The focus at this point is how do our children heal from this horrific event? Although it happened hundreds of miles away, kids here in Mid-Missouri may still have questions, feelings, and fears that need to be addressed.”It just tugs at your heart knowing this happened to kids…you just have to feel that,” said Stephanie Garcia. She lives in Jefferson City and has two young children who don’t quite understand what happened in Connecticut.For every parent, their worst fear became reality Friday. It was an act of evil difficult for an adult to handle, and impossible to imagine a child doing the same. “The best you can do is say we are doing everything possible, we have done everything possible and you have been safe, this is a safe community,” said Mental Health Professional Counselor Patrick Beglau. As parents tell their kids goodnight, and get them ready in the morning they also have concerns about the conversations ahead. “I think every parent thinks about that, but I just remember to tell them I love them, have a good day and I will be there to pick them up,” said Garcia.Experts suggest parents remind children schools are a danger free area. Adults don’t have to bring the incident up, but if a child has heard of it, then it may be time to talk.”Younger people maybe short sentences maybe short remarks, not so much detail. Older people you might want to enter into some discussion with them but understand you are not going to be perfect at this and that’s okay,” said Beglau.It’s important to keep the discussion positive and remind the children all the people in their life are doing what they can to keep them safe. Parents should also keep a close eye on how children act. “I would certainly look for if there is a change in their personality, maybe they have gotten quieter or gotten more agitated or seem more irritable more clingy those sorts of things,” said Beglau.Remember, it’s okay to feel sad and to grieve. All children are different so its important parents tell as much detail as they feel is appropriate.When it comes to teenagers take notice if they become very quiet, and make sure parents are extremely honest in the conversation.

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