East Texas counselor offers advice for talking to kids following Uvalde school shooting

East Texas News at 6.
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 5:29 PM CDT|Updated: May. 26, 2022 at 8:04 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Following Tuesday’s school shooting in Uvalde, we’re learning more about what that community is going through. Grief. Fear. Sadness. Disbelief. Anger.

While the tragedy didn’t happen in East Texas, it can still take an emotional toll on students and children here.

“I really think that there’s no right or wrong way to have a conversation. Having no conversation is much worse than having an awkward conversation or a weird conversation,” said Rebekah Walker, a licensed professional counselor supervisor and registered play therapist.

She said it’s best to support and not negate your child’s feelings.

“When your kid says that they’re sad or they’re scared, instead of saying, ‘oh well that’ll never happen here,’ we don’t know that, we can’t promise that,” she said. “But what we can say is, ‘I understand you’re scared, you have every reason to be scared. Sometimes mommy is scared about things happening, too.’”

Walker touches on Julia Cook’s book, The Ant Hill Disaster. It can help parents and kids start the conversation that addresses fear surrounding natural and man-made disasters.

“The mom basically says we can’t stop these things from happening. We can’t control that bad things happen to us. But when they do, we can work together,” Walker said.

So in situations where things can feel very much out of control, Walker says it’s best to focus on how you can help.

“Can we send them a card, can we draw them a picture, can we write a letter to our school board about what changes we want to see happen in our own district? How can we empower our children to take control of the situation and feel like they have some influence in their world?” she said.

Walker stresses the importance of being honest with your kids. If they ask you a question, answer it, and she says it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.”

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