PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Talking to children about the tragedy in Virginia Beach can be a tough conversation to have. How do you explain something to a child that you don’t understand yourself?
10 On Your Side spoke to Executive Director of Counseling at Old Dominion University Nancy Badger, Ph.D. for some advice.
“Where you start really depends on what they are concerned about,” Dr. Badger said. “Hopefully your youngest ones aren’t seeing a whole lot of news coverage, but your older ones might be, so it might be different conversations with somebody that’s like four versus somebody that’s 14.”
She said if you don’t want to talk about it with your little ones that’s okay, but if they bring it up be ready to reassure them. “Basically, you want to make sure they know that mommy and daddy or mommy and whoever are doing everything they can to keep you safe.”
However, you don’t want to lie and promise safety. Let them know that bad things do happen and we don’t know why.
Most children will move on but some may need professional help to deal with it. Look for these signs that your child may need to seek help:
- Losing sleep
- Having nightmares over it
- Excessive worry or anxiety
Even if you did not personally know one of the victims, watching this unfold in our community can trigger emotion from a past loss. “Grief is sneaky,” Badger said. “If you try to stuff it and not deal with it that’s when it becomes problematic… so talk.”
Also, she advises you turn your anger into positive energy. You can take flowers to the memorial, volunteer at a community kitchen or join a faith community in prayer.
Several local organizations are offering free crisis counseling following Friday’s tragedy. Click here for a list.