Doctors weigh in: How to help children coping with the events in DC

It’s important to let children know it’s okay not to be okay right now, the experts say.

Doctors weigh in: How to help children coping with the events in DC

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Many people are on edge following Wednesday’s violent protest at the U.S. Capitol building that left four dead and scores of police officers injured.

Just so, many parents are wondering how to talk to their children about what happened — and how should we expect children to cope?

“How do any of us cope with seeing something like this?” child psychiatrist Dr. Reyna Gilmore wondered.

Gilmore says it’s important to let children know it’s okay not to be okay right now.

“Answer their questions,” Gilmore said. “Don’t just say, ‘Oh, everything’s going to be alright.’ You know you can encourage them.”

Gilmore offers mediation could be helpful as well as drawing, writing, singing or dancing. Otherwise, the key in conversations about Wednesday’s events is to be mindful.

Jill Huynh is vice president of Beech Acres Parenting Center.

“Don’t use words like ‘insurgent.’ Try to stay away from words like ‘sedition’ and the 25th Amendment and all the things that are going around,” Huynh said.

Huynh agrees parents should be mindful about the language being used.

“My teenage son asked me what it meant when the Capitol building was breached,” she said. “That’s a word he didn’t know, and so we had to talk through that, and luckily he asked the question. If I say the building’s been breached, and he’s sitting there wondering what does that mean, we’re not going to get very far with that conversation.”

Dr. David Brand is a therapist at Beech Acres Parenting Center.

“As a parent, we can also carefully walk them through the process of the harsher realities of life,” Brand said. “You think about basically issues of race, politics, religion, how they interact, and they produce these actions, these feelings in adults, and how it’s our job to now validate those really strong emotions.”

Brand has kids of his own. He says having these conversations with them now is more important than ever.

“My youngest son came down and he mentioned how it came up in his Zoom session for school, so it’s like last night, today, through the weekend, it’s going to be an ongoing thing to process,” said Brand.

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