Newtown School Shooting: Talking to Kids About Tragedy

Dr. Janet Taylor on what to tell children in the wake of the shooting in Connecticut.
3:56 | 12/17/12

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Transcript for Newtown School Shooting: Talking to Kids About Tragedy
Doctor Taylor we're trying to simply make sense of it ourselves but also to reassure children that school in fact is a safe place -- parents begin that dialogue. -- again by being open and first -- with your child how you feel we focus so much the public children are feeling when in fact as adults. Who have experienced loss and certainly. Can empathize with the parents we have our own issues and -- it's important not to let our own feelings stop us from talking to children so answer their questions be prepared to tell the truth. Know how your child reacts in terms of from an age perspective. Sometimes they may ask a simple question don't go too -- take your cues from them and -- in terms of how much detail they want. It sounds to me than the bottom line needs to be let the child approach you don't try to initiate air force this on to them. Well I mean -- it's obviously you know screens are -- where your children are hearing about it you can say listen did you hear about what happened how do you feel. And then take the cues from them sometimes you might ask your child or even a teenager to draw a picture. Pick a magazine or describe an experience that may top tell you about how they're feeling how do you what what advice do you give to parents of the -- town community in the surrounding areas for those that. May have had a direct impact -- direct loss -- connection. How do you initiate that kind of a conversation about that the preciousness of life. Well you. Start with their feelings and let them reestablished their significance of their loved ones they may tell the same story over and over again be prepared to listen. I think one of the worst things you can say -- it's going to be okay. And that's our natural tendency because we want it to be better but for many of them it's okay to say I know it's hard and just stop there. Let them continue to tell you how they feel. Understand it takes time there is no timetable on grief it could be years before they feel like they will laugh again smile again but one day they will. On a larger issue and as you know -- sort -- this dialogue and ABC across all of our platforms about some of these issues that have been brought up following Friday. If a child comes -- -- asking about guns why some people have guns how -- you identify the good guys from the bad guys where do you start that kind of a dialogue to try to understand. Parameters for safety. Well you can understand what their questions are about guns and there are many people would you agree with it or not who you -- gun safely and I think that's important to recognize. But always say listen if -- in someone's house and there's a gun out. Leave the house you know talk to them about what they would do give them what -- if they were. In the presence of a gun but certainly re emphasize what we do to keep people safe and that is different states have gun -- in May be you can go and look it up. And establish what that would mean for them. Do we need to have a further conversation as far as guns as toys in the media in movies television. Is this going to be at the start of a larger dialogue. Well you know by its exposure to violence so you could be exposed through a cartoon but it's about balance so as much as -- Monitor what their kids do in terms activities it's about balance about goodness in reestablishing our own values and letting them know the most important decision makers and people who influence how kids feel -- -- -- parents so. Balance the screen time balance the video game time with face to face time we are talking about what's important to you. The last I want to ask you about this -- -- stern still learning more about the shooter the possibility it hit him having mental illness. Where we -- in the national dialogue about addressing issues of mental illness or behavioral issues. We still have a waste ago one out of every ten families -- have a child that experience of some. Emotional difficulty if it impacts their school like to work like their community life. Get help we need to break the stigma. And and and released the silence about mental illness talk to your health care provider know your resources and if you prepare that has a child that may have a mental illness in terms of -- disorder there -- getting suspended from school many fights. Depressed or have changes in mood talk your pediatrician talk to your doctor and get help for them some very sound advice doctor Taylor thank you so much we appreciate that.

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

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