BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Many are struggling to deal with fear and anxiety following this week’s school massacre in Uvalde, Texas. To help manage these feelings, local experts offer tips to cope and ways to talk to your children about mass shootings.
“Take care of yourself first. Get your own stuff in order,” said Dr. Corey Gonzales, a clinical psychiatrist. “You don’t want to project your anxiety onto your children. Your job as a parent is to make them feel safe. You may not be feeling that they’re safe, but you want to attend to their security. It’s not always what you say, it’s what you do to let them know you love them and care about their security. And if they’re under the age of eight, I wouldn’t even bring this up.”
Dr. Gonzales recommends guiding older children through these tough conversations and asking them what they know.
“Ask your child, ‘what’s the hardest part about this?’ Address their concerns, not just your stuff,” said Dr. Gonzales. “Really get in their mind, have empathy and attend to them.”
Mental health experts urge you to keep track of your kids’ mental health, and reach out for help if you see them acting differently. You can also make small changes to put mental health first.
“There are tons of things that are protective for our mental health,” said Jason Giffard, a local therapist. Thinks like eating healthy, limiting screen time, being around friends and family that love us.”
If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health crisis, you can call Kern Behavioral Health’s crisis hotline at 1-800-991-5272. The Kern County Superintendent of Schools also offers more tips to help your family cope.