BOISE -- With Friday's breaking news about the tragic shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, many parents are left wondering how to talk to their children about this, and how to deal with grief.
First, many parents might be wondering if they should even bring up the tragedy with their kids. Counselors say yes. Because it's very likely they will hear something, whether from a friend or television, and it's much better if a parent can guide the discussion to help them understand.
The exposure is there. I think they're going to hear about it, said Amy Korb, one of three counselors we talked to at Riverside Rehab in Garden City. I see a child's questions being more, 'Why did this happen?' Not all of those questions are answerable.
These counselors say you should be open to discussing this with your kids and to broach the subject in a generic way - asking them how they're doing, or if they've heard anything about it. Also, they say keeping kids doing what they normally do is key.
The way to help kids stay safe and secure is by keeping their routine, said counselor Jarilyn Foster.
Lena Biondolillo is also a counselor at Riverside. She says parents should not be distraught when talking to their kids; they'll pick up on that. Because kids take their cues from us. So, if mom or dad is overly upset or distraught by this, then the kid is going to be more upset.
Korb says reassure your children of their safety, but do it in a certain way. Be sure you don't tell them that this could never happen here. Don't bring up an unrealistic reassurance. But just reassure them that there's appropriate measures, that there's people watching out for their best interests.
It comes down to, we do what we can do within our control, said Biondolillo. There is a certain amount of life that's outside of our control.
Validate their feelings, said Foster. Be open to talking with them about how they are feeling, and not say, 'Don't be sad.' But say, 'It's OK to be sad.' Because it's a very sad thing.
These counselors say the tragedy is affecting adults too. They recommend everyone try to stick to their routine and take a break from the coverage if you find yourself watching it all day.