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What to do if your child witnesses a traumatic event

Licensed psychologist Dr. Rachel Needle says most important thing is talking it out
Posted at 10:39 PM, Dec 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-09 11:03:13-05

JUPITER, Fla. — In the wake of a medical incident involving a student at Jupiter Community High School on Thursday, parents may be wondering how to talk to children if they witness or hear about traumatic events.

WPTV NewsChannel 5 sat down with a licensed psychologist to get helpful tips on how to approach that conversation.

Dr. Rachel Needle, a licensed psychologist with Whole Health Psychological Center, said the most important thing is addressing the conversation head on and having a plan in doing so.

"You don't ignore it. You don't pretend nothing happened or wait 'til they bring it up," Needle said. "So decide what you're going to say, decide how you're going to say it, and make time that's uninterrupted and free from distractions."

Needle also suggested asking your child what he or she knows and listen to what they have to say.

She also said to give your child any facts you do have and be honest about what you don't know.

Needle said to express your feelings before asking your child to express theirs.

RELATED: Parents experience anxious moments during Jupiter Community High School lockdown

Finally, she said it's important to support and reassure your child.

Needle added your child may close up and not want to talk. She said if that happens, express your own feelings to them and encourage them to express theirs in return.

If you feel your child is struggling, Needle suggested seeking out a licensed mental health professional, or call 211 24 hours a day, seven days a week.