Once again as a nation we find ourselves dealing with two tragedies, both occurring in Orlando, FL. In this case the two tragedies are different in form, one the tragic loss of a toddler at the hands of an unexpected animal attack and the other the loss of 49 individuals as a result of hate, however, both tragedies can be equally impactful to our children and ourselves as parents.
As we are living in the age of technology, our children and adolescents are constantly exposed to all types of media and are likely to see news stories on these two tragic events. With the exposure to these events there is likely to be questions and possible anxiety to respond to.
In talking with children and youth about the death of the toddler at the Disney resort, a lot of that conversation will be influenced by the developmental age of the child/youth asking the questions. As Dr. Tim has previously written on Yellowbrick.me in response to when/how to talk to your children about traumatic events, you have to answer the questions and not shield children from the fact that sad things do occur, however, providing young children with enough developmentally appropriate information about what happened without giving them too much detail that they may not understand is important. If you’re confused or uncertain what to say, talk to friends and see how they are talking about it. If you’re still uncertain, consult a professional.
In addressing the nightclub shooting in Orlando, Dr. Jean Mercer has provided a link specifically addressing how to talk to children and youth about the shooting in Orlando as that incident involves many different topics that individuals will have questions about (i.e, terrorism, gun control, violence directed towards one community – LGBT).
It’s never easy to have these conversations with your children, but it’s important to have these conversations as our children/youth need to know that they can come to us as parents’ when they have questions and that we will work to address their questions/concerns as best as we can.
Dr. Ryan Loss is a licensed clinical psychologist and the Director of Clinical and In-Home Services at Connecticut Behavioral Health, LLC, a group psychology practice in Cheshire, CT. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Texas A&M University where his clinical and research work focused on treating childhood behavior problems and parent therapy techniques. Dr. Loss completed his clinical internship at Franciscan Hospital for Children where his clinical work focused on assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with significant behavioral and emotional difficulties in both residential and outpatient settings. He then completed his Residency year with Connecticut Behavioral Health, LLC, expanding his clinical practice to the treatment of adults in addition to children, adolescents, and families. Dr. Loss specializes in individual and family therapy addressing issues of emotional, behavioral, and psychological functioning with a particular focus on parent training. Dr. Loss has worked with children, adolescents, families, and adults in university, hospital, community, and school settings, and now private practice. Dr. Loss has taught psychology at the undergraduate level, supervised postdoctoral level clinicians, provided in-service trainings for school districts and parent organizations, and presented research on behavior problems at national conferences.