How to talk to kids about tragedy on TV - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

How to talk to kids about tragedy on TV

11-year-old Camryn Taylor (Source: NBC12) 11-year-old Camryn Taylor (Source: NBC12)
(WWBT) -

In the past five weeks, at least three tragedies have gripped the nation, claiming the lives of husbands, wives and children.

While the coverage of these events is important, it can also have a lasting impact on some of the youngest viewers.

“He was like shooting out the window at all these innocent people having fun,” said 11-year-old Camryn Taylor about what she remembers seeing on TV after a gunman killed 58 people at a concert in Las Vegas last month.

Taylor is smart and bubbly but admits stories she has seen on the news or social media worry her.

“It makes me scared,” she said. “Like someone is going to come up to the house and rob us, or try to kill us, or something like that.”

Taylor’s mom Tamra Collins tries to talk with her daughter as much as possible, but admits sometimes it’s hard to find the right words.

“That's a question we all have, that we really don't know the answer to,” she said when Camryn asked why the gunman wanted to kill people.

Child and adolescent therapist Kendria Pierce says even if you don't have the answer, having a conversation is important - especially because most children won’t speak up when something is bothering them.

“As a parent I would probably tell them I understand, I would be afraid too. Validate what they are feeling. Explain to them also living in fear is not a good way to live too, because you are not living,” said Piece, a Clinical Supervisor with Family Insight.

Pierce says even if a child wasn't directly exposed to trauma, they can still experience PTSD from watching something traumatic on the news.

“It’s very detrimental to them,” she said.

She recommends limiting TV time, and time online. She also suggested seeking help if a child seems worried or starts to withdraw from the things they love to do even after coverage of the event has died down.

“Help is available for them if they need to talk about it more. Just letting them know that they're there is the biggest thing, and talking to them about the feelings so they aren't keeping it inside,” Pierce said.

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