How to Talk to Your Kids After a Tragedy

By Eric DeFreeuw

December 14, 2012 Updated Dec 15, 2012 at 1:28 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - As parents an important thing we can teach our kids is how to cope with a tragedy like we saw today in Connecticut. After speaking with a local clinical psychologist, it turns out sometimes it's not always important what you tell your kids, but what you don't say that can make a difference.

Of course you want to talk to your kids to find out what they’ve seen or heard, but in times like this it’s equally important to not expose them to new information.

Jeannie DiClementi, an Associate Professor of Psychology at IPFW, as well as a Clinical Psychologist says, “first of all, listen to them and listen to what they are asking. And don't give them any more information than they're asking. Some kids can't handle a whole lot of information."

When we exhibit disasters like we saw this morning, our natural reaction is to try to find answers to questions like "why" and "how" this happened. But when it comes to coping with our children sometimes just being there to support them helps the most.

"Reassure, reassure, reassure. Let them know you're there for them, you're going to be there in the morning, you're going to be there if they wake up scared in the middle of the night, you're going to be there when they get home from school,” DiClementi says.

Jeannie had experience working with students at Columbine High School following the 1999 shooting. And she we have come a long way with how these matters are handled now. She pointed out that teachers and first responders have been trained in how to properly handle situations like this. Today everybody got the children out of the building and to safety right away, which she hopes will reduce some of the after effects.

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