Psychologist gives advice for parents to talk to children about school shootings

May 25, 2022, 1:52 PM | Updated: 2:15 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Outrage and heartbreak have gripped the country after 19 children and two adults were massacred at Ross Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

It’s important for parents to know how to talk to their children about this kind of violence. However, some might not know the best way to do it.

This morning KSL TV spoke with Dr. Matthew Woolley, a licensed psychologist and professor at the University of Utah, about some of the basic steps for the most difficult topics.

“You should be a safe place, a safe person for them to come talk to about that,” he said.

Woolley reminded parents that children don’t perceive the world the same way they do as adults. That doesn’t mean parents need to ignore serious news events — even devastating ones — but they have to be careful with how they react first.

“If a parent is really struggling with how they feel about what happened yesterday they may need some time to talk to another adult before they talk to their kids,” Woolley said.

Gunman kills 19 children, 2 adults in Texas school rampage

Breaking it down, Woolley said parents can’t keep things from their children because in the age of information, they’ll likely hear something.

Second, they should check their emotions to see if they need to talk to another adult before talking to their kids.

Third, make sure the conversation with their children is age appropriate.

With elementary-aged kids, don’t get specific and be brief.

When talking with junior high or middle schoolers, parents should ask open-ended questions and find out what their children know and what they want to know. Parents need to be honest, but they don’t have to be graphic.

Last, limit exposure of graphic videos because that can be traumatizing for young children.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

a soccer ball is kicked into the goal net...
Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio

Non-public-school students could more easily play sports under a new bill

A bill working its way through the Utah Legislature could open the door for online, private, charter, and homeschool students to play sports outside of their home district.
16 hours ago
FILE (Utah Highway Patrol)...
Madison Swenson

South Jordan woman killed in head-on crash

A 23-year-old woman has died from her injuries following a head-on crash in Cache County.
16 hours ago
(Iron County Search and Rescue/Facebook)...
Eliza Pace

Location, car found after officials seek public input on a video from a missing man

A car of a missing man was found after hundreds responded to help identify the location of a video of a remote location.
16 hours ago
Terrie Ladwig, 28, who was found in her Concord, California apartment dead on Dec. 2, 1994. (Concor...
Pat Reavy

Utah truck driver arrested in California cold case from 1994

A truck driver in Utah was arrested last week in connection with the Northern California cold case killing of a woman in 1994.
16 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Tamara Vaifanua

Financial tips to prepare for having kids

Having kids can be exciting, but it requires a lot of financial planning. Here are some smart money moves for new and expecting parents.
16 hours ago
Unsheltered individuals seek warmth in the makeshift warming tent provided by advocates during bitt...
Ashley Fredde

County opens warming center after Salt Lake homeless advocates build unsanctioned tent

Temperatures became dangerously low across the state, making people without housing particularly vulnerable.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Psychologist gives advice for parents to talk to children about school shootings