Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting: Explaining the Tragedy

Willow Bay explains how to answer children's questions about the shooting.
4:28 | 12/16/12

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Transcript for Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting: Explaining the Tragedy
And the question facing parents everywhere this morning is, of course, how do I talk to my own child about these terrible events? How can we explain the unexplainable? The inexplainable, difficult for even us to comprehend. Joining us is journalist and author willow bay who wrote the book on this topic "talking to your kids in tough times" how to answchild's questions about the world we live in. Shs us from los angeles and willow was a former anchor here of this program. We want to welcome you back to the program. Thanks for being with us. Nice to be here with you on what is really a tragic morning for all of us, for all parents. Willow, I want to start by -- well, I want to start by asking you the question that we've been talking about this morning, all three of us being parents, how do we approach this topic? I know my kids were asking about it last night, where I would be this morning. How do you do it in a way that's compassionate and giving them the information that they need but not too much? So the first thing you want to do is establish that there's no question too scary for your child to talk about, to create a really safe and comfortable place for them to come and talk to you. The second thing you want to do is suppress the normal parental instinct to tell them everything. You want it to come from you. Waugh want to be the one to tell them but this is one of those situations what thee need to do as we do as journalists and ask our children question so we get a baseline on what they're understanding. Remember they're processing unthinkable information and adult information with the minds of children. So you want to ask them questions like, well, what do you think about that? What have you heard about that? Are the kids at school talking about that just as a way of tting the conversation started and I'm getting a more precise understa what ectly they know and they think to be the truth. And, willow, one of the questions I received from my 10-year-old daughter, one of the first questions out of her mouth was why mommy. Why would someone do like this and you know what, I didn't have an answer for her. What do you tell your children, willow, when they ask why? By the way, my 14-year-old -- that was the first thing he said to me, how -- why would somebody do this and I think in that situation it's fine to answer truthfully, which is I don't know. I think everybody is asking that question today. But then with a young child particularly with a young child because the young children think very concretely. They don't -- they haven't mastered abstract thinking. Ask them, well, why do you think, why do you think somebody would have made a choice like that and it'll get them processing some of this information in their own way. And then you can steer the conversation to ways people could make better choices, for example. Okay. And one of the most important things is, of course, to make them feel safe. You heard a little girl I spoke to last nate said she's afraid to go back to school. Children everywhere will experience some of these feelings of anxiety. What do we say to them about feeling safe and knowing that they are safe? Well, again, children, young children in particular think very concretely so it's very helpful to reassure them in very concrete and specific ways that they will be safe when they go to school. So you remind them that there are adults out there whose job it is to keep them safe, whether it's policemen. Their school principal. Their teachers. And walk them through the safety measures in their school. There's somebody standing at the front gate. There are drills that we do, practice your drills. Again, very concrete and specific things that are going on in their school to keep them safe. Also, ask them for their own ideas. What do you think we can do to help keep you safer? What do you think would help you feel safer? Oftentimes allowing them to participate will really help them feel better, but then always come back to reminding them that it's the job of adults and there are a lot of us, hard at work, to keep them safe. Willow bay, fantastic advice and advice that each and every one of us as parents around this entire count can use as our children head back to school on monday. Willow, thank you very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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