(ABC4) – With the recent school shooting in Texas, many parents are left feeling overwhelmed about how they should approach their kids to talk about these types of heavy topics.

It can be confusing and scary for young children when watching such tragic events unfold on the news. Children mimic and follow their parents’ emotions, so experts say it’s important to stay calm to ensure your child feels secure.

Experts at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) say it’s important to let children know it’s completely fine to feel sad and scared at times. Children should know that feeling these types of extreme emotions is normal.  

Whether in times of war, natural disasters, school shootings, or any other tragic event, it’s important that parents continue to talk and listen to their children’s concerns.

Child experts are offering helpful hints in times of crisis including:

  • Do your best to keep the television off, or at least limit how much your child sees of any news event.
  • Try to keep yourself calm. Your presence can help your child feel more secure.
  • Give your child extra comfort and physical affection, like hugs or snuggling up together with a favorite book. Physical comfort goes a long way towards providing inner security. That closeness can nourish parents, too.
  • Try to keep regular routines as normal as possible. Children and adults count on familiar patterns of everyday life.
  • Plan something that you and your child enjoy doing together, like taking a walk, going on a picnic, having some quiet time, or doing something silly. It reminds children of the simple things in life that can help them feel better, in good times and in bad.
  • Even if children don’t mention what they’ve seen or heard in the news, it can help to ask what they think has happened. If parents don’t bring up the subject, children can be left with their misinterpretations. You may be quite surprised at how much your child has heard from others.
  • Focus attention on the helpers, like the police, firemen, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and volunteers. It’s reassuring to know there are many caring people doing all they can to help others in this world.
  • Let your child know if you’re making a donation, attending a town meeting, writing a letter or email of support, or taking some other action. It can help children to know that adults take many different active roles while not showing helplessness in times of crisis.