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Mental health experts encourage parents, kids to focus on what they can control after traumatic events

Mental health experts speaks on steps to talking to kids after Texas shooting
Mental health experts speaks on steps to talking to kids after Texas shooting 02:06

BOSTON --  The devastating loss of life in the Texas school shooting can feel too painful to process for adults. And for parents, the challenge is especially delicate. WBZ-TV spoke with two experts about caring for our ourselves, our kids, and how to know when the people we love really need help. 

"The shootings in Buffalo and now this. Countless times we hear about more and more school shootings. To think about all the loss and challenges of the pandemic, it is absolutely overwhelming," said Boston Children's psychiatrist Dr. Chase Samsel. 

In a world that can feel out of control, mental health experts advise focusing on what we can control – like how and from whom our kids hear about something so scary.

"It's really important for us to not be dishonest with our children, but we need to reassure them about what's happening now and what's not happening now. This is not happening to you, it's not happening near us right now, and it's over," he explained. 

Those who have witnessed violence before or suffered a recent loss can be especially vulnerable to feeling traumatized or overwhelmed. There are some warning signs that demand parents' attention, like intense anger, history of violent behavior, bullying or being bullied, and drug or alcohol use.

"If you're feeling like your child is not quite who he or she used to be, that's something to pay attention to," Mass General psychologist Dr. Ellen Braaten said.

And Dr. Braaten supports social media use, but you, the parent, should be in the audience.

"If they're putting something out there to other people, you as the parent should be one of those people who has access to what's going out on their social media. You're paying for the phone, you're paying for the computer, it's in your house. You have every right to do that," she said. 

If your child is communicative and doing great with friends and school, Dr Braaten doesn't recommend snooping. But if you're worried – the way your kids use social media is important to explore. 

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