How to talk to kids about tragedies

HOUSTON – Near West University Elementary, where a tragedy stared kids in the eye on Monday, some were unable to get to school.

The principal agreed to excuse absences of kids in certain neighborhoods.

A counselor offered some advice about how to talk to your kids after these types of events.

When tragedy hits our country, city, even neighborhood, horrible images can be everywhere you turn.

Licensed professional counselor Audrey Omenson, from the Nick Finnegan Counseling Center, said talk to kids about what they see on TV.

Leave the conversation open for questions and see if they open up more during playtime or when they are relaxed.

"Even if it's in the car when you're driving, or having time at home, but just giving them some space to talk about it and process, a lot of times just giving them factual information and answers to some of their questions can actually be a very comforting thing even if some of the factual information maybe it's hard or sad," Omenson said.

If a child seems overwhelmed with concern, Omenson said the answer to coping may lie in changing their frame of mind.

"One of my favorite quotes that I will always go to is from Mr. Rogers and so he will always say 'look for the helpers,'" she said. "This scary unpredictable thing did happen and that happens in life, sometimes things are scary or unpredictable and we're maybe not sure what to do but we can look for ways to help, let's work on this news program for the people who are helping."

She said showing kids where they have control can bring them comfort.

If they write letters, or show another nice gesture to those helpers and first responders it might help give them the reassurance that good things can happen in bad situations.