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Talking to kids about traumatic events

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Posted at 4:55 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 18:55:46-05

Riots and destruction, anger and fear. Americans watched an attack on the United States Capitol this week by supporters of President Donald Trump.

The images are hard to see, especially for children.

"There are many teachable moments in this and it's quite a challenge to show just enough of the information to teach on, but not so much that you create a sensation of children not feeling safe," said Ken Yeager, director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

Yeager says whether to show what happened depends on the child, based on age, maturity level and other factors. He says if you do decide to share what's going on, listen to what the child has to say.

I think it's important for parents to acknowledge to their kids, 'I'm having some of the same feelings you are, too.' Maybe not to the same degree. Maybe to a greater degree, but assuring the child that this is a normal response to an abnormal circumstance."

Yeager also says to limit exposure so that it's not overwhelming, and make your child feel safe by grounding them in the moment.

"Just because there are bad things going on around you, doesn't necessarily mean it's coming directly toward you."

Finally, when it comes to feelings about these images, let your child know they can always come to you to talk.