(Parenting.com) -- With tragic story of a mass shooting in Colorado flashing on the news this morning, parents may find themselves awkwardly fielding questions from their kids. How do you explain that scary events do occur while still making your children feel safe?
We talked to Dr. Paul Coleman, author of How to Say It to Your Child When Bad Things Happen, to find out the best ways to talk to kids about disturbing images and events.
Wait until they're older. Until around age 7, Dr. Coleman suggests only addressing the tough stuff if kids bring it up first. "They might see it on TV or hear about it at school (or heaven forbid even witness it), and then you have to deal with it. But younger children might not be able to handle it well," says Dr. Coleman.
Keep it black and white. Yes, the world can be a cruel place, but little kids, well, can't handle the truth."Younger kids need to be reassured that this isn't happening to them and won't happen to them," says Dr. Coleman. Parents may feel like they're lying, since no one can ever be 100% sure of what the future holds, but probability estimates are not something small kids can grasp, and won't comfort them.
We had to confront this here in NY on 9/11. EVen if you did not know someone who was killed the whole horror of it affected everyone in the city. Schools were closed for the rest of that week and when everyone came back it was important for teachers and caregivers to be a soothing presence.