Batman, Kids and Aurora: How to Talk to Children About the Colorado Movie Theater Shooting

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Watch for Trauma: "Young children may have difficulties identifying and expressing feelings. Parents should pay attention to the children's play (for instance, preoccupation with certain aggressive electronic games, drawings, repetitive play that imitates the traumatic event or events). Another sign of trauma is avoidance of reminders (in this case, going to the movies or to a show or watching certain movies or avoiding other activities that they didn't avoid before)." -- Dr. Aurelia Bizamcer, Medical Director, Outpatient Psychiatry at Temple University Hospital

Keep Answers Truthful but Simple: "We're not holding back, but we're not giving more because the giving more could have the risk ofalarming the child. ... As a parent you have an obligation to protect a young child from being overwhelmed." --Alan Kazdin, Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University; Director of the Yale Parenting Center.

Reassure Them: "We need to appreciate that kids have different fears. Many will worry about the movies, but others will worry about such events spilling over to other areas, such as the mall, school, the neighborhood. For kids of all ages, it is really important to let them know that these kinds of events are incredibly rare. Movie theaters are very safe places. Just think of all the movies you, mom and dad and everyone has gone to. Things like this really do not happen much at all." --Dr. Gene Beresin, Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training, Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital

Keep Answers Age-Appropriate: "Parents should be sure to pitch the discussion to their kids' developmental level ? for a 6-year-old, it's completely appropriate to reassure them of their safety, with some emphasis on the fact that police have caught the person they think did this, and he is no longer at large. For kids over the age of 8, more concrete details are appropriate, along with, perhaps, a general discussion of how to be safe in public -- locating exit doors for instance, and getting to safety in the event of any dangerous occurrence." --Jay Reeve,President and Chief Executive Officer, Apalachee Center

Don't Make Assumptions: "Don't project your own feelings, fears and anxietyon kids because you know you don't really know exactly what your kids are feeling until you talk to them." --Dr. Jane Taylor, psychiatrist

Here are sample answers and tactics meant to reassure children of specific ages, courtesy of Dr. Anand Pandya, co-founder of the Disaster Psychiatry Outreach Center and an associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA:

Preschool Age:"Something bad happened, but we're going to keep you safe."

School-Age Children: "These things almost never happen. Shootings are extremely rare, and there may be an individual who is sick or who has problems who did this."

Teenagers: Teenagers will be watching the news reports with or without their parents. Engage in a conversation with them. Ask your teenager, "What do you think we should do?" This may strike up a conversation about gun safety or regulations. Again, remind them that this is rare. If they do want to go to the movies, reinforce safety routines.

Read how moms are grappling with talking to their kids about the tragedy at Babble.com's Roadside Assistance and Babble Kids blogs.

Watch the full story on a "Tragedy in Colorado: Movie Theater Massacre" tonight on a special "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET.

Drs. Laurie Handwerker and Stacey Schott of the ABC News' Medical Unit contributed to this report.

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