Psychologist gives advice talking to children about Colorado shooting

Posted at 5:42 PM, Jul 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-21 01:39:23-04

NORTH SALT LAKE, Utah - Kimberly Thompson of North Salt Lake woke up Friday morning to her children watching images of the tragedy unfolding in Colorado.

She says it prompted her to immediately ease their concerns and to help them understand what happened.

“I did notice this morning my daughter asked me about it then got on the internet and started looking it up,” said Thompson. “I'm just going to tell them that there have always been bad people in the world and there always will be, but the vast majority of people are very good and we need to focus on that.”

That kind of explanation is exactly what Dr. Douglas Goldsmith, a local child psychologist, says parents should be telling their kids. He advises an explanation that is specific, yet does not frighten them any more.

“Talk to their kids about being hyper-aware of their environment,” said Goldsmith. “If you see something off, don't assess what's going on, just get out and get help.”

Goldsmith says by empowering children by being alert to possible danger, it can ease their concerns by helping them understand. They can do things to quickly get out of dangerous situations.

Regardless of how children initially handle what they see, Goldsmith cautions parents to not stress too much by keeping their children from going out in of fear this happening again.

“I would be careful not to get into a huge power struggle with my kid who says I want to go to the movie,” said Goldsmith. “And statistically, the likelihood of it happening all over the country is very tiny.”

That’s what Thompson says she is doing.

“We love the movies and we will continue to go to movies,” said Thompson.

But as a mother, her heart still goes out for every child who has to learn about what happened in Colorado.