Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting: Speaking to Children About the Tragedy

Dr. Richard Besser offers advice on how to explain news, images of shooting to kids.
2:25 | 12/14/12

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Transcript for Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting: Speaking to Children About the Tragedy
And tonight all across the country american families are seeing those images of tragedy. Small children hearing what happened at an elementary school. So we asked abc's chief medical editor, dr. Richard besser, for a guide on what you say to your children. Just as adults scrambled today to protect children, there are things you can do tonight to protect children from the vubl emotions from the tragedy affecting us all. How you do that will depend on their age. If you child is seven or under and is sitting with you right now, my advice let them go into another room. If they haven't heard about the shooting, they don't need to know about it. You know your child best. If they're between 7 and 12, talk to them about it. Don't lie, don't evade, tell them they're safe. Something like this, where someone hurts a child in school, is an incredibly rare event. It never happened to mom or dad or anyone we know. And the man who did it is gone now. It's over. Ask how they feel about it. Tell them it's okay to be sad, too. Support whatever they feel and tell them that you'll keep them safe. But sharing extra hugs will have more effect on their body chemistry than asking over and over if they're all right. For teens, watch to see how they react. K them to talk abo it. You can use this to have aeal conversation. Why do they think it happened? You might want to direct them to some volunteer work, so they feel they can be working to improve things. For all kids, keep your routine. Children are reassured if their world continues in a normal way. Bedtime is bedtime tonight, soccer practice happens tomorrow. It shows them the world is still normal. If they want you to take them to school on monday, that's fine. But going back to school on monday proves to them that you're not worried, so they won't be. If you're a parent, this can be traumatic for you well. Reach out and ask for extra hugs, talk with your friends. You have to take care of yourself to be there for your children. Tell us about the signs of something wrong, even if your child doesn't tell you. It's normal to have a stress reaction, a child who is not sleeping, not eating, who can't focus. A child who is hyperworried, they can't think about anything else, who's not able to return to normal activities after a week or two, they need to get special help. And don't assume because they say nothing they're not feeling something. Thank you, rich. Coming up, we kept hearing about

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

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