CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Talking with your children about deadly shootings, like the one in Uvalde, Texas, is what Lowcountry mental health professionals say is best for young kids as they process emotions related to tragedy.
“Check in with your kids, regardless of their age, and ask them if they’re heard anything and ask them what they have heard about this kind of an event,” said Dr. Rochelle Hanson, a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina. “This did occur in another state, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an impact.
She says that conversations need to be direct and two-sided for children to tell parents how they feel.
“Allow your child the time and opportunity to ask questions. Then as a parent try to provide answers to the extent that you’re able to,” said Dr. Hanson.
Kristin Kimes, a licensed social worker at Trident Medical Center, says that parents should also limit the time that news coverage of a tragic shooting or other event is playing in your home.
“I don’t want (my kids) to be uninformed, but at the same time I think it’s important for us to really address with our kids and families these important issues,” said Kimes.
“As kids get older we can’t completely limit their access to social media. So that’s where it’s really important to create a safe space where you can check in with your child and ask ‘What have you seen on the news and social media feeds?’, said Hanson.
If children are having lingering mental health issues related to trauma from a mass shooting happening then experts suggest getting professional help.
Signs that Children Need Mental Health Help
- Unable to sleep or eat.
- Stomachaches or headaches.
- Thoughts of self harm.
Kimes says that a good start is going to a family’s primary care provider. But hospitals, such as Trident Medical Center that has social workers are another good option.
“We will typically make referrals on an outpatient level so they may follow up with a community provider, a therapist or depending on the need psychiatry could be involved. They could be admitted into an adolescent or child psychiatric treatment facility,” said Kimes.