Psychologists recommend talking about violence with kids

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COLUMBIA - In the aftermath of a deadly school shooting in Florida, psychologists and psychiatrists are urging parents to talk to their children about violence.

"It's the best way to go," said Kyle Bersted of Burrell Behavior Health in Columbia.

He said parents shouldn't feel like they need to have all the answers.

"Its okay to acknowledge that we don't know why these things happen," Bersted said. "People just do bad things.” 

He said a parent can bring up the topic by asking their child if they have heard about anything scary recently or seen anything on the news.

"I think a lot of parents will avoid or not dive into something like this," Bersted said. "Silence, in general, can give the wrong ideas to kids that it isn't a big deal."

MU psychiatrist Laine Young-Walker said children usually know about the violence.  

"It's on their mind and it's affecting them," she said.

She said parents should try to limit their child's exposure to a traumatic event.

"Keep them from seeing the repeated events on the TV over and over again because all that can do is re-traumatize someone," Young-Walker said.

She said children can develop fear and anxiety if they are not given the opportunity to have conversations and talk about their feelings.

Young-Walker and Bersted both said it's important for children to maintain normal routines. Parents should monitor how their child is responding to the traumatic event. If a child seems extremely bothered, parents should consider getting professional help.

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