Paul Schwartz web

When talking about kids and psychology Hudson Valley Parent turns to its expert,  Dr. Paul Schwartz, professor of psychology and education at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh.

He started off by saying, “There is not really a lot to tell. The reality of the situation for kids is not the same as it is for adults.”

Kids are more concerned with their immediate world

According to Dr. Schwartz, most kids are more involved with their world and the world immediately around them, especially during this time of year. “Kids are busy making their Christmas lists and thinking about what they may get this holiday season,” he says.

So, although we adults are trying to understand the senseless school shooting in Newtown, CT., kids are more involved with their day-to-day activities, whether it’s birthday parties or shopping or just playing outside.

 “My grandkids live several towns over from Newtown,” says Hudson Valley Parent publisher Terrie Goldstein. “I was really concerned about my grandkids reaction to hearing about the shooting since they are less than 10 minutes away from the Sandy Hook Elementary School. And they have friends who live in that school district.”  Her grandkids are seven and ten years old.

“My son told them about the incident when he picked them up from school on Friday afternoon. According to my son Paul, Robert didn’t say much, but my seven-year-old granddaughter, Lia,  said ‘He was probably on drugs.’”  Her granddaughter came up with a solution that satisfied her.

“I spoke to my grandkids early Saturday morning, to see how they were processing what was going on around them, says Terrie. “My grandson had a birthday party that afternoon and that’s all we talked about. You can’t beat a Laser Tag Birthday Party.  “

Keep the explanation simple

Although we adults try to review every piece of information about the incident, most kids are interested in the simplest explanation. Start there and then see their reaction. Wait until they ask questions so that you will understand their concerns.  “Respond to how your kids are processing the information,” advises Dr. Schwartz.

“I remember when my son was seven-years-old he asked me where babies came from,” comments Hudson Valley Parent’s publisher. “I was all set with this very involved description of sex and mommies and daddies.  And I started by saying that babies grow in a mommy’s belly. ‘Great’, he says as he walked away. “

When talking with children use the old advertising adage KISS…Keep It Simple Stupid.

Children sense your tension

Be careful about showing your own anxiety because kids sense your tension and react accordingly.  “Children model adult reactions,” says Dr. Schwartz.  “So if you show anxiety, your children will pick up on that.”  

Remember there are not easy answers to why this incident occurred. According to Dr. Schwartz we are all looking for answers but there is no pat solution. He feels it is all about easy access to firearms.  He says bullies don’t bring guns into schools. And if we are looking at kids who remain alone remember that creative kids are loners and inherent in their creative energies is their desire to be alone and aloof.  

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