UofL professor provides tips to help parents talk with children about Connecticut school shooting
Listen more than talk.
That’s the primary recommendation Bryan Carter, Ph.D., professor of child psychiatry with the University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics, has for parents about talking with their children about today’s (Dec. 14) school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
A gunman with two automatic weapons opened fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School, reportedly killing more than two dozen children and adults. Extensive media coverage could mean that children learn about the event, causing them fear, anxiety and confusion.
Carter says the first step in helping children deal with the shooting is listening to what they say about it and respond accordingly. “What do your kids know already?” he says. “What can your child understand at his or her age? Make sure you give the child the right amount of information and not jump in anxiously or nervously, saying more than necessary.”
· “Keep your kids away from the media coverage. It is alarming and could make it seem as though shootings are happening everywhere.”
· “Control the information flow. Kids are so plugged in today; take control of their access to the internet, television and other media.”
· “Have a meeting before, over or after dinner to talk about what has happened. Hear what your kids have to say and then reassure them that it has not happened here.”
· “For families with religious beliefs, praying, mediating or simply taking time to think about the people affected together as a family can help your children.”
Parents can help best if they do so in a manner that makes the most sense for their family, he says. “Organize yourselves to show your strength and support for your kids in whatever way makes the best sense.”
Carter is director of the Pediatric Consultation-Liaison Service at Kosair Children’s Hospital and chief psychologist for the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology from the University of Virginia, completed his predoctoral residency in Clinical Psychology at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center in San Antonio, and a postdoctoral fellowship in Pediatric Psychology at the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine. He has been with the University of Louisville School of Medicine and the Bingham Clinic since 1985.