Talking to children about Malaysian plane disaster

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A local child psychologist has tips on how to talk to your children about the graphic images they've seen in the media regarding the Malaysia Flight 17 tragedy. (WPVI)

A local child psychologist has tips on how to talk to your children about the graphic images they've seen in the media regarding the Malaysia Flight 17 tragedy.

Prasanna Krishnan, a parent, says she keeps the television off when her 3-year-old son Aarav is home.

When she reads online about the Malaysian airplane being shot down, she also makes sure he isn't looking over her shoulder.

"I think it's better to be safe then have him be upset about something like that,"s aid Krishnan.

Elizabeth Gosch, a child psychologist at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, says that's the right approach with young kids from toddlers to elementary-school age.

That's because they don't have the skills yet to understand.

"They can't put it in context, understand why it happened or how or any information around it," said Gosch.

However she says even if they do see the news, young children are more focused on themselves and what's happening in their own family or own community.

"I've had for example a child asked did this happen in Pennsylvania and when I said, 'No,' she was no longer worried about it," said Gosch.

Still if they do ask questions, it's best to answer honestly but without a lot of detail and in a calm manner.

"If you model calm and that you feel safe that's going to mean a lot to children. They really look to parents and if you seem unconcerned, they'll also be unconcerned about it," said Gosch.

For teenagers, they may have more questions.

Again it's best to answer honestly. You can give more details but also offer reassurance by pointing out differences between where we live and where the tragedy happened.

If however, your child seems to be losing sleep or is overly concerned about the incident for more than a few days, they could have problems with anxiety.

In that case, it's best to have them see a professional.

Dr. Gosch says many kids with anxiety can be helped with short-term therapy.

Related Topics:
healthchildrenparentingmalaysia airlines flight 17healthcheck
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