Helping kids cope with recent tragedies

Local News

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – With two mass shootings in the span of just thirteen hours many people across the country continue to grieve. That grief is sparking many questions, concerns, and even fears in people of all ages.

Many young kids are taking notice of the shootings, some of them asking their own questions and expressing their own fears. Local mental health professionals say it’s important for parents to take the time to have those serious conversations.

“Super sad and super unfortunate but all we can ever do is move forward, and it’s a scary place out there,” said Kelly Riibe a local Siouxland mother.

Riibe is a mother of four young children, and she is one of many parents having to have a conversation about the recent tragedies.

“It’s hard to know where the line is on how much is too much detail, because a little bit of fear is okay, but you don’t want them to be outright scared,” said Riibe.

Many children are being exposed to these tragedies through social media, friends, and outside conversations. That’s why this is an opportunity, for parents, to address how their child is feeling.

“We can be available, so they may have questions. They may have questions that we would not have anticipated, so just being available to talk as a parent and being supportive is extremely important,” said Laura Phen,
a Child Therapist at Dean & Associates.

“I think by talking about it, we let her know that we are going to help them not let that happen to them. And if they ever see something scary or unsafe they need to talk to their dad or I about it,” said Riibe.

But after those tough conversations, what do we do next? KCAU 9 reporter Marina Bach sat down with Laura Phen to talk about some ways parents can help children cope with emotions after any tragedy.

“We can teach children calming techniques like breathing, talking about their feelings, and just being able to express that and let it out. That can really help a child develop adaptive ways to deal with big feelings,” said Phen.

“Bad things are going to happen and how we cope with them in a positive way will mean a lot to everybody,” said Riibe.

These tough conversations can become a bridge into even bigger topics like mental health, depression, drugs, or alcohol. The conversation is giving parents an opportunity to have a better flow of communication with their kids.

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