Newtown School Shooting: What to Tell Your Kids

Psychologist explains how to comfort your children about the elementary school shooting.
5:18 | 12/15/12

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Transcript for Newtown School Shooting: What to Tell Your Kids
We know that so many people across the country or face the difficult challenge -- explains something so horrible that the children and their lives. ABC's juju Chang spent the day consulting. With the expects. Unless he's not helpless and. Those terrifying incidence and still terrified of them still in shock when adults are left speechless by traumatic events. It's hard to imagine what's going on in the mind of the child we're continuing our breaking news coverage adults often -- -- media images trying to glean facts gain perspective what was the motive of the alleged -- why would he do this to make sense out of the senseless event. But for children -- can have the opposite effect. Today psychologists and pediatricians are strongly urging parents to shield their school aged children from too much exposure to the news. They're really young charge. And they can be confused and think that this is happening over and over and over again they don't necessarily know that it's on -- For older kids are our kids who -- and lake and around 8910. They might surges be inundated with anxiety. And people's the year and -- stress and it's and it can overwhelm their capacity to cope. Elementary school was supposed to be a save innocent place but -- shooting shatters that notion for parents. If your children are old enough to ask questions instead of talking to the kids try just listening -- start. By asking them what do you know how are you feeling ask open ended questions. So that you can start from there. Lot of times we think they want to know lots and lots of information that adults want to know but children don't necessarily have the same questions have been seeing means when they do ask questions don't hide from their concerns. Try -- to over answer. And that's just can heighten. Their anxiety confuse them they could make them more anxious that could plant seeds maybe ideas that hadn't occurred to them well we don't -- -- hide our emotions try not to be overly emotional either in front of the keys. Because kids get their cues from their grown -- we look to grownups to interpret situations for -- it's called social reference thing it's like kids do. So we're sort of being watched and kids are looking -- asked to attempt to let them now how should be be reacting to -- and so if parents are overreacting. Understandable. But try to sharing your sadness in your anxiety in your fear in your anger with other adults and shields children from those conversations. Mental health experts told us they've learned a lot from the experience of 9/11. A number of children were traumatized. Who had no direct contact with 9/11. But rather watched -- the media extensively. And for those children a term was coined called secondary. Terrorism. For parents it's a delicate balancing act calibrated to each child's personality. Is my kid anxious. Is she fearful. Right now you're going to see a lot of anger you're gonna see a lot of sadness a lot of tears. They've -- over time watch for these kinds of things watch where children were -- in trouble sleeping or eating. Kids who can't focus they can't go to school they can't. Resume their normal activities or children who are just obsessed with worry all they can think about and talk about it this event. Those kids you're gonna want to get them some special help. Reassure them that they're safe the images can be hunting explain in concrete terms that the police and teachers are working to keep schools safe. And explained that this is of theory -- -- event. Parents are able to put it in perspective like they know the odds are incredibly long -- that their child's school is gonna have this kind of incident and yet kits might not know that. That's -- We developed thinking -- like that sometimes after traveling kids are especially prone to it -- especially prone to overcome magical thinking her associate of logic so if it happened in -- kindergarten class and it happened in another kindergarten classrooms you have to correct they're magical thinking that straits. But the professionals we spoke with told us that the best comfort may not be verbal there's a superb body of research. From animal research to human -- search. Research with premature babies. And what this all comes to is that the touch the comforting has strong biological effects and so it's not just a cliche of parenthood. It's risen through the ages that has now science behind it. An idea endorsed by President Obama earlier today this evening Michelle -- will do what I know every parent in America. -- -- which is our virtual little tighter. And we'll tell them the we love them so when words fail us never underestimate the power of an embrace. Every parent knows that school can be a source of anxiety -- for young kids regardless. I spent the day interviewing those trauma experts in child psychologist and they all say the same thing. Kids depend on parents to feel safe so while it may not be appropriate to hold a school assembly which might just increase fears. Schools are a source of community and parents should check in with their teachers and administrators. To see how their kids are responding. But as a sad footnote Cynthia sandy -- school principal was among those killed today and that community will -- a lot of support moving ahead.

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

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