Expert Weighs In On Talking To Children Following Tragedies
PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – The stabbing spree that occurred at Franklin Regional High School has left many in the community and region shaken. How do parents, children, and teachers handle the stress and anxiety they may now feel?
Psychologist Dr. Christian Conte joined the KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway to discuss how you can talk to your children following the attack that has hit so close to home.
Dr. Conte says parents should, “first and foremost talk to [their] children. So many people don’t know what to say so they shut down.” He adds that you may not have “the right words,” but it’s important to show them you care about them and what they think.
Students may now have a heightened fear of going to school and with that parents may fear for their children as they head to school. How can we be sure that everything is safe?
Dr. Conte says, “We don’t know that life is safe so we don’t want to just tell people everything is going to be fine.” He adds it’s important to accept the way the child is feeling and, “you can create a safe space for your children,” by allowing them to open up and share their feelings.
Is it possible that a parent’s worries can rub off onto their child raising their anxieties? Dr. Conte says it is possible but being honest with your child is better.
He does say it is important that if you are very worried that you, “keep that worry in somewhat of a check, but just let them know [you] are worried [and you’re] not at school,” with your child.
Dr. Conte says when you talk to your child about their safety that it is a good opportunity to ask them what they see at school. He says you can use the conversation to encourage your children to reach out to other students who may need help.
He says, “It is so important to teach our children and ourselves to reach out to anyone who might be struggling.” He adds, “If you see a young person who’s isolating himself or herself, reach out or talk to a teacher or counselor and them reach out to that person.”
Listen to the KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA.