Psychologist addresses helpless feeling, talking to children

11:21 PM, Dec 15, 2012   |    comments
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SAINT PAUL, Minnesota - There are many of us going through a whole range of emotions after the Connecticut school shooting tragedy, from anger to sadness to simply feeling helpless.

The country is grieving.

Barb Korman of Norwood Young America explained it as, "Just profound sadness and thoughts about the parents and families that are suffering in Connecticut."

She was one of many parents at the Science Museum of Minnesota on Saturday making an effort to spend quality time with their kids.

So was Daniel Spielman of Woodbury who was there with his two sons.  He said, "What happened yesterday is sort of on my mind and we've had some conversations about it and I wanted to have just a kind of normal day."

That's a good idea according to parenting expert, psychologist, Dr. David Walsh, especially in the wake of such tragedy.

He said, "None of us understand what's going on, but particularly true for children.  So routines become important.  Time together to the extent you can spend time together, all of those things that reassure children and give them a sense of normalcy then become anchors."

Walsh's website, Mind Positive Parenting, includes his advice on how to speak about tragedy to kids of all ages.

He said older children may want to do something to help.  He suggests reaching out to the victims.

He said, "Write a letter to the families so they can start to express what they're feeling."

While trying to shield the smallest of children, age three and under, from the news, Walsh said that older kids will need reassurance from their parents they're doing everything to keep them safe.  Be their support system but look for your own support, not from them, but from other adults.

Walsh said, "There's this saying that's been around for generations.  A joy shared is twice a joy.  A grief shared is half a grief.  So we human beings, it's important to share."

Walsh is grieving for the children and their families and is also deeply saddened by the frequency of such crimes.  He said as adults, "At this point we need to start to figure out, 'OK, what can we do to start to change this?'"

He said it is also helpful to simply be there for one another.

Korman is doing that with her two daughters.  She said, "Just to slow down a little bit and enjoy each other."

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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