Talking to your kids honestly, in an age appropriate way, is better than trying to shield them from disturbing news. (Submitted photo)

Better to talk to kids about tragedies than shield them

Fraser Health releases tip sheet for parents on how to discuss tragic news events

Parents have the unique opportunity to shape how young people consume news.

And in the wake of the news of a mass shooting at Las Vegas on Sunday, and other sometimes shocking news events happening around the world, Fraser Health has released a reminder to parents to take the lead.

They have republished a tip sheet created by The Scientific Parent, called Talking to Kids About Tragedy.

It reads that “many parents’ first instinct is to shield their children from tragic events, whether natural disasters or acts of violence.”

However, studies are now showing that not talking to children about these types of events can actually do more harm than good. It refers to Dr. Gail Beck, director of Youth Outpatient and Outreach Psychiatry at the Royal Mental Health Centre in Ottawa.

The tips include:

– Talking to your kids about how the events make you feel using age appropriate language, and ask them how the events make them feel.

– Be honest about what happened, in an age appropriate way, avoiding the use of flowery metaphors or fairy tales.

– Turn off the news if you feel the images or details are too graphic, but explain to your child why you’re doing so.

– If your child asks a question to which you don’t have an answer it’s okay to say “I don’t know.”

– Reassure them it’s normal to feel sad or upset about a tragic event and encourage them to talk to you.

– If teens or older children say they need to watch the news coverage, watch it with them and talk through their emotions.

To learn more about mental health from Fraser Health, visit them online.