Talking to your child about the shooting tragedy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Talking to your child about the shooting tragedy

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

When it comes to your children should you tell them about the shooting rampage in Connecticut? Michele Allen with the Applied Psychology Center in Ocean Springs says yes.

"I think it is really necessary for parents to talk to their children. Children are going to find out. They are going to hear things, probably the wrong things from other children; they are going to be worrying, and parents need to address this with the children on the child's level," Allen said.

Allen does not recommend letting children under the age of 12 watch news coverage of the tragedy because you cannot control what is said or shown.

"If they watch it, I would watch it with them and then answer their questions," Allen said.

The way children react will be different, too, but Allen said you should pay close attention to anything out of the ordinary because children are not able to express themselves like adults.

"Children will start to show some anxiety and fear about dark, they may become irritable, they may have tantrums, refuse to do school work or chores, having trouble sleeping, have nightmares and some younger ones may even have toileting accidents," Allen said.

If symptoms last for more than a week or two, Allen suggests seeking help from a mental health professional.

"I would not think well this will blow over and let the child go on week after week, and worst yet, I would not punish the child because the child feels terrible and is frightened. We don't punish for frightened," Allen said.

As for the parents Allen said you should express your feelings but make sure to not lean on your children for comfort.

"It frightens our children, yes hold them, hug them give them lots of warmth I love you but not I'm leaning on you. You need to help me feel better; that's not ok," Allen said.

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