Parents: Let Children Know They Are Safe After Orlando Attack

A Dallas psychologist is offering advice for parents who are looking for ways to talk with their children about the mass shooting in Orlando.

"Most of the time, kids are just wanting to know that they are safe," said Dr. Nicholas Westers, a clinical psychologist at Children's Health Dallas.

"They may not know where Orlando is, especially in different parts of the country, but they might still think that it's happening just down the street," he said.

"Many times we don't realize that repeated exposure on television or in the media can traumatize children, or cause emotional discomfort for children," Westers added.

A parent may think their child is being more defiant than usual or having other trouble, but that could be the child trying to make sense of what happened, he said.

"They may not state it out loud, they may end up acting out their anxiety," Westers said.

He has five key tips for parents:

  • Talk to your child and listen
  • Maintain routines
  • Limit media exposure
  • Allow playtime to help process their feelings
  • Seek help if needed

"They can start asking them questions about, 'Hey, what have you heard about what happened in Florida or Orlando?' Just open ended questions that will get them talking and see what their thoughts and feelings are about what happened," Westers said.

For more tips and ideas, read Westers's blog post on the Children's Health website.

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