Mental health professional, school officials share advice on how to talk to kids about Texas shooting | Mid-Missouri News

COLUMBIA – Mental health professionals and school officials are offering advice for parents and guardians on how to discuss tragic events with their children following Tuesday’s mass shooting at a Texas elementary school.

Amy Hill, vice president of school-based services with Burrell Behavioral Health, believes it’s important to talk to your children about these events, but making sure to do it in an age-appropriate way.

“My first advice would be do not shy away from it. Be willing to have that kind of hard, uncomfortable conversation with your kids, “Hill said.” They are going to hear about these things, so they need to have these conversations at home with their parents as well. “

Kids often will ask if these type of events will happen again. Hill said it’s important to listen and validate their feelings, but to not make promises.

“It’s tough as parents and tough as adults that are working with kids because we can not make promises to them,” Hill said. “But what I would suggest is that we have that conversation with kids and let them know that if scary things happen, when scary things do happen, I’m going to be here to support you.”

These conversations are not easy for teachers either. Dean Klempke is a sixth grade teacher at Gentry Middle School and has been a teacher for 25 years. Making sure the kids feel safe at school is his top priority.

“Just look at them and say ‘Are you feeling okay about that? Are you feeling safe here at school?'” Klempke said. “I’m not a guidance counselor, I’m a science teacher and things like that, but it’s really my job to identify if kids are struggling.”

Columbia Public Schools sent a statement to families on Wednesday morning. Superintendent Brian Yearwood said the district believes it’s important to be sensitive and offer support to children.

“Your child may want to talk to you about his or her feelings. Talking about feelings will help your child deal with this tragic event,” Yearwood said. “Listen attentively.”

He said parents and guardians may see behavior changes. Some changes to look out for include restlessness or nervous behavior, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping or nightmares, “clingy” behavior and fear of being alone, asking questions over and over again and remembering previous losses and events.

FACE of Boone County is a community resource families can access if children are struggling to this tragic event.


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