NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's a conversation no parent ever wants to have with their child, but following the tragic school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, parents are now facing that topic with their children.
"They may not have seen it on the news, they may not have heard the news directly, but they know that people are acting different, that something feels off at their school, at their house," said Jessika Boles, Child Life Specialist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
"So I think a good way to start the conversation could be like 'Hey, what happened at school today? Did you hear about anything that's been happening on the news? Did you guys talk about anything really hard that's happened in Texas or anywhere else in our community?'" Boles said. "And kind of see if they go there with that little lead-in."
Boles said it's important that parents speak honestly, using clear language with their children.
"Saying you know, what we know is that someone went into a school and hurt a lot of children with a gun. The police were there, the first responders were there, the ambulances came to take care of the children, but unfortunately, some of the children died," said Boles.
She said use open-ended questions like "tell me more about that" and "what does that feel like for you?" and "what are you wondering about?"
Boles said parents also serve as an emotional thermometer for children.
"It's one thing to have that conversation with your child when you're very traumatized and distressed yourself," said Boles. "But when you've had time to kind of center yourself and think about what you're thinking and feeling and process that, then that helps you have a better conversation with you child."
Boles also said it's important to acknowledge your child's feelings and let them know those feelings are normal.