Explaining a traumatic incident to kids

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The deaths of five family members in a Saco apartment over the weekend has left people sadden and shocked. Police said father Joel Smith shot and killed his wife Heather, and three children, Saturday night, before killing himself. The kids were 12, 7 and 4-year-old.

This tragedy has spun up questions about how parents should explain this incident to their kids. Medical experts said it's important to ask your kids questions, so you can get a sense of what's going on in their mind and their imagination. How children understand this event depends on their stage of development and age.

Medical experts said young kids see things black and white and in a concrete view. They said it's important when kids ask you questions that as a parent, you give brief and honest answers. Don't dodge the question because it makes the them worry. Too much information that has specific details can be overwhelming too. School-age children will have a better understanding of the events that occurred.

Child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Mahdieh Bodaghi, said it's important to have an open discussion. Clear up any thoughts they might perceive happened, but didn't.

"You should ask them how they think they should be kept safe. You should go through the safety measures that are in place for them, so they know it's not going to happen to them specifically, so they do not internalize it."

Dr. Bodaghi also said it's important to reassure them about their safety network.


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