How to talk to kids about the Las Vegas tragedy

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Tips for talking to children abpout the Las Vegas tragedy: HealthCheck with Ali Gorman on Action News at 5:30 p.m., October 2, 2017 (WPVI)

The deadly shooting in Las Vegas is disturbing news for everyone, but most especially for children. Hearing about such events can leave them feeling anxious and confused.

Images of the horrific scene are all over - on television, on social media. And many parents are left to wonder how to discuss the issue with young ones.

Parents like Vonda Kenner. Kenner woke up to the disturbing news out of Las Vegas by way of her phone. She's in Philadelphia on vacation with her kids.

For her youngest, 10-year-old Maxwell, she'll try to prevent him from seeing most of the images.

"I want him to still be a kid and enjoy himself," said Kenner. "I want him to be able to go up those stairs and not be scared something will hurt him."

School Psychologist Jessica Kendorski at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine said for young kids, those under 2nd grade, it's best to shield them from upsetting and scary news. But for older school-aged kids that can be tough, so she suggests asking questions.

"So when my kids get home I'm going to say 'did you hear about anything today? Is anything going on?'" she said Kendorski.

Kendorski said that way you can clear up misinformation. She said to stick to facts when telling kids what happened.

"Be direct about what happened, tell the truth and if they ask if this could happen here, tell them it could but it's very rare," she said.

Kendorski also said to make sure to reassure them they are safe. Also, for older kids and teens on social media, encourage them to focus on the positive: the first responders, the acts of heroism.

Kenner said she'll also remind her teenage children to be aware of their surroundings.

Kendorski said along with all of that talk about just-in-case family disaster plans, but always be mindful of your own emotions.

"If you become fearful they will pick up on that fear," she said.

Finally, Kendorski said it is also important to continue your usual family routine.

If a child becomes fixated on the tragedy, or if you have other concerns, it is helpful to reach out to the school psychologist or guidance counselor.

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