How to Talk to Kids: Explaining the Connecticut School Shooting

Dr. Richard Besser and Dr. Jennifer Ashton provide ways for children to understand and recognize a dangerous situation.
2:44 | 12/15/12

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Transcript for How to Talk to Kids: Explaining the Connecticut School Shooting
And all of us parents, looking for advice on how to talk to our children on something that's so hard to comprehend. I'm joined by our chief health and medical editor, dr. Richard besser for that. First of all, the kids so directly impactive, the children in that school and this need special care to make sure this event doesn't define them for the rest of their lives. Unlike other young children, their parents are going to need to talk to them clear about what happened here. Express their feelings. You want to make sure the children don't become tragedy celebrities. That this is all they're known for. As soon as you get them in normal routines, to pick them something fun to do. Thatimportant. But professional grief counselors are going to be a big part of what these children experienced. I have a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old. My 7-year-old didn't know about it. Didn't want to know about it. My 10-year-old had questions. How do you talk to them? It's great if you can shield your 7-year-old. For 10-year-olds, you want to listen to them. They need to see that you're sad but under control. It's okay to be angry and sad. But you're in control of those feels. And your 10-year-old is going to want to know from you that they're safe. That their world is going on. And the bad person has been caught and life goes on. Rich, thanks very much. Let's go back to elizabeth with dr. Jen ashton. That's right, george. I was wondering about the fact that my kids don't yet know about this. A lot of kids don't. We're keeping the tv off. At some point, the school psychologist said don't bring it up if they don't ask about it. Is thatting the right thing to do? I think the chances of them not hearing about it in some fashion are slim to none. I got a notice from my children's school, as well, about plans they will take at the school on monday. It's important for parents to remember that how they deal with their children, has to be based on age. The conversation you have with a 5-year-old is very different than a conversation you have with a 15-year-old. It's also important toemember that there may be a spectrum of reactions from children who were not at the scene. It might be mild. It might be severe. And it might be delayed. It might not appear right away. It's important to stay calm when you talk with your child. And to reassure them, that even though we can't tell them you will absolutely be safe at school, say it anyway. Guarantee them. That's key. You want to keep the honest communication open. You want to ask them questions. But you also want to listen. And I think it can't be emphasized enough that this is a perfect example where recruiting the assistance of trained mental health professionals is vitally important. Kids sometimes can't ask for help. But adults can.

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

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