How to help children process a mass shooting

San Jose VTA Rail Yard Shooting

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — In the aftermath of a mass shooting, it’s difficult for anyone to process the tragic death, and can be especially difficult to explain it to your child.

Kristen Gustavson, a Cal State East Bay Professor of Social Work shared advice on how to help children process mass shootings and gun violence overall.

“Do your first processing away from your kids,” she advises for step one. This avoids kids turning into the emotional caretakers of the adults in their lives.

Before beginning the conversation, consider the child’s age and personality to decide what words to choose and the approach. “You know your kids… their temperament and what they can handle,” said Gustavson.

For really young kids, she suggests a one-sentence explanation and focusing on the positives, like the heroes who responded and attempted to save lives.

Older kids will care more about their parents hearing their feelings, and being acknowledged.

Teenagers may want to initiate action and find out what they can do from a social justice perspective, she said.

Watch the video as Gustavson explains further how we can take care of ourselves while processing the violence.

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