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When tragedy strikes, parents field questions from young kids: ‘How do you speak to them?’

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MILWAUKEE -- Following Wednesday's mass shooting at Miller Brewery, many parents might be wondering how to address the tragedy with their young children.

"The questions often arise with the younger children. How do you speak to them?" said Munther Barakat the director of Behavioral Health Therapy with Advocate Aurora.

Barakat suggests watching for cues from your children before approaching the situation.

"Kids are a lot more resilient than we believe they are. And they show us signs that they're ready," said Barakat.

After a serious event, younger children can shift in their actions and behavior.

"You might see it in the way they're playing in activity, or drawing a picture is how they're expressing their concern," said Rebecca Michelsen of Penfield Children's Center.

Michelsen says parents should stick to the facts when addressing tragedy, and try putting the situation into perspective. With the many ways kids are able to access information, experts say hearing these details from a parent can help children cope.

"As a parent, you want to control the flow of information as much as you can. Obviously, it's a little hard when children or adolescents have access to their phones where they can get information as much as possible," Barakat said.

"I think that's one of the biggest mistakes we can make is not addressing it, and just thinking we're better to shield them from it than actually talk to them about it," Michelsen said.

If you need assistance, experts suggest talking to your pediatrician about additional resources, including the possibility of therapy.

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