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Bend psychologist offers tips for parents

Published On: Dec 14 2012 10:00:04 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 15 2012 01:06:31 AM CST

NewsChannel 21's Kandra Kent talked to a Bend psychologist about how to respond to and talk with your children about Friday's school shooting.

BEND, Ore. -

Eighteen children dead, six adults dead and after a school shooting in Connecticut,  a nation is  wrought with grief.

Bend psychologist Michael Conner said tragedies like Friday's call for parents to stay rational and not let their own emotions affect their children.

"They don't know why somebody would do this," Conner said. "You don't need to be playing it on the TV, you don't need to be showing them and saying, 'Look at this.' You don't need to give little kids lessons on things that happen one in millions."

Conner says the best thing parents can do is pay attention and listen.

"If they're actually expressing a fear and asking you a question then reassure them," he said.

And know your child will take cues from you on how to act.

"If you're reassuring them out of your own anxiety," Conner said.  "Or you're telling them what's happening, and then acting in an anxious or upset way, then your child is going to end up feeling that."

It's not just small children who can be traumatized, Conner said -- it's more likely teenagers will be more affected by this latest school shooting.

"They can actually go on YouTube, and they can Google things, and they get quite fascinated  with what happened," Conner said.  "There are many kids in high school that are very anxious and afraid in general . And when they hear of things like this, their thoughts often go to their own personal safety."

Conner also said parents need to watch for warning signs that children are traumatized.

He said for the next few weeks, parents should pay extra attention to their children's sleeping habits.

Kids may report feeling sick or having stomachaches, or it may seem like their personality has changed. These can be signs of stress.

And while you may wish to accompany your child to school, or pull them out for a few days,  experts say its best to provide a sense of certainty and normalcy for your children.  That will make them feel most secure.


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