Counselor: How to talk to kids about the theater shooting

11:52 AM, Jul 22, 2012   |    comments
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9NEWS spoke with Anya Bebe, a child therapist and parent coach, who had some tips about how to talk to your children.

"There's some things parents can say to help reduce fears and anxieties with the children," Bebe said. "I had to sit down [Friday] with my children too. So one of the best things to do is to let them know enough information so they're not hearing it first from the news, or the TV or friends. So, you want to give them the information yourself."

Bebe says the best way to start is to let them know the end of the story first because it helps reduce anxiety.

"Let them know that 'something happened, but you are safe, your loved ones are safe, and everything is going to be OK,'" Bebe said. "Let them know that they are removed from the situation. 'Something happened [and] it's not right next to us [and] it was a little ways away.'"

Bebe says, even if you live in Aurora, you don't want to dwell on the fact that it happened so close to home. Bebe claims if you have a child as young as 5 or 6 years old, you can speak to them about the shooting.

"Under that age, they're probably not going to come across this information," Bebe said. "But children 5 and older are most likely going to hear about it walking by a TV or from kids on a playground."

She says even if your child says they do not want to know about it, it's important that parents are the providers of information to their children and that they will most likely come across the information on their own whether they want to know or not.

"We want to make sure they don't get the graphic details [and] don't dwell on the violence," Bebe said. "They need to know that they are safe [and] that this person was caught. Kids need to know the 'bad guy' is taken care of and isn't going to come after them."

A child's first response is their safety, so it's up to the parents to make them feel comforted.

"They also need to know that this is a very rare occurrence, and this sort of thing doesn't usually happen," Bebe said. "They need to know that this isn't typical."

Bebe shared a story of one mom telling her she was in a store and a worker said "Oh gosh, this could happen anywhere." She says to make sure parents do not talk like that in front of their children.

Resources for dealing with trauma:

http://www.healthoneems.com/mayflower.html

 

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