How do tragedies affect your children? - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

How do tragedies affect your children?

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

If the threat of more terrorist attacks has you feeling a bit on the edge, imagine how your young children must feel. 

It's an important topic, and as parents, it's a good idea to be ready when your child starts asking the tough questions. 

Dr. Karen J. Browner-Elhanan is a pediatrician who specializes in Adolescent Medicine at Memorial Health. She says she can't stress enough how much children can be impacted by the tragedies such as mass shootings.

“Children and babies at every age are effected,” said Dr. Browner-Elhanan. “Actual exposure to violence and same events happening on TV, over and over, that really does make us think about how much exposure all children have.”

She also says children can pick up on how their parents react to these types of events.

“They can take the cues from their parents because of parental anxiety,” said Dr. Browner-Elhanan.

So, as a parent, how do you talk to your children about what's going on in the world? First, she said, always be ready.

“We want to hear from a child what they know so we can accurately answer. We have to be ready with our responses,” said Dr. Browner-Elhanan.

She offered this advice for talking to young children.

“Preschool children find it hard to verbalize what makes them stressed,” she said. “Cuddle, hug, reassure verbally that you will keep them safe from things that may harm them.”

Also, try explaining things to them during playtime.

“Use very clear good and bad judgement terms for your child when you're playing. Play with them throughout other things so they have the ability to feel they are in control of the situation,” she said.

And for older children who might be hearing about these types of situations from their friends or at school, Dr. Browner-Elhanan encouraged parents to say to them,

“Well, I’d like to reflect on that with you, what do you know and what did you hear?”

No matter your child’s age, Dr. Browner-Elhanan wants parents to be ready for the conversation. 

“We all need to be reassuring to our children that we disapprove and I think communication is the key,” she said.

Of course, if you have any questions about how to handle these types of situations with your child, make sure you get in touch with your pediatrician.

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