MIAMI (CBSMiami) – You don’t have to be from Dayton or El Paso to feel impacted and stressed by the latest mass shootings.
This is especially true of South Florida residents, given what happened in Parkland last year.
One question that many parents ask at these times is how to help their children cope with what’s happening.
Psychologist Raquel Bild-Libbin joined the CBS4 News at 7 to discuss the impact that stressful situations like mass shootings can have on children, and ways to help them through it.
“One of the effects we’re seeing in the children is that this is so random, its unpredictable, we can’t tell where [or] what, it inspires a lot of fear and a lot of hopelessness,” she explained.
Depending on the age of the child, the approach to help them can will vary.
“Children need to be told the truth up to their developmental age,” said Bild-Libbin. “You don’t tell a 3-year-old the same as a six, the same as an adolescent.”
When it comes to talking things out, parents should be able to remember how to get the conversation started because according to Bild-Libbin, there is a universal place to start.
“Every child needs to be asked what do they know, so you start where they are,” she explained. “Never lie because if you lie then the person that they look up to is telling them something that later they will find out.”
Another thing to keep in mind during these times is how much news coverage you may be watching, especially in front of children.
For adults and even older kids, it’s easy to distinguish from seeing repeat footage and seeing something brand new but that’s not the case for little ones.
“When they’re very young children, you don’t want to be watching the same thing over and over so you do have to limit TV,” Bild-Libbin said. “They don’t know the difference of something showing once and if it’s repeated, every time [they see it] they think it’s another shooting happening.”
Ultimately, helping children understand what is happening while not scaring them is the goal. One great way to do that is to keep them in their daily routine.
“You’re trying to decrease the fear, you’re trying to validate their feelings, whatever they are, and then show support to those feelings, but also have them go to their day-to-day activities,” Bild-Libbin said. “This is so they can see a normalcy in life that while these things may happen they don’t disrupt our lives.”