EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

December 14, 2012

EXTRA: How to talk to your kids about Conn. shooting

ANDOVER — In a letter to the community, Andover Public Schools Superintendent Marinel McGrath has advised parents to “protect your young children from repeated viewings and auditory exposure to news accounts” of today’s elementary school shooting as new information becomes available.

In a two-page letter to parents and community partners, McGrath cautioned that “young children will be particularly vulnerable, as other young children have reportedly been impacted by this tragedy.”

“We are all in this together; loving and caring for the children of this community,” she wrote. “For all of us as adults, I trust we will find a way to draw reassurance and comfort from each other and the affirming messages of this holiday season. The bad news is not all of the news, and we have so much to be thankful for.”

When talking about the incident with children tonight, Janet Yedniak, director of Social Workers, has the following advice:

Young children

All young children are negatively impacted by multiple viewings of scary events, or by relentless news coverage of those events. With young children, it is usually most helpful to find out what their questions are, rather than trying to anticipate yourself what it is that they need to know.

If they do ask, it would be helpful to downplay the setting that this event happened in, and simply say that someone hurt some people in another place, and that everyone feels sad for the people who were hurt.

Depending on what your child has heard, you may need to gradually step out more information, and it certainly is helpful to respond truthfully to your child’s questions, but remember that you do not have to give more information than your child is asking for.

Emphasize that they are safe and that you love them. If they are aware that the shooting took place in a school, remind them that we have all kinds of ways that we all work to keep our school buildings safe, including locks on the doors, and adults who are there to take care of us.

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