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'Keep that open dialogue' | Charlotte psychologist shares tips for parents to talk about deadly school shooting with their children

The shooting at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday left at least 21 people dead.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tragedy often forces tough conversations, and in the aftermath of the deadly elementary school shooting in Uvadale, Texas on Tuesday, many parents are now left wondering how to best address the topic with their children.

Clinical child psychologist Joy Granetz, who has a doctorate in psychology, said the first step for parents is making sure they take the time to process their own emotions so that they are in the right mental space to help their children. 

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From there, Granetz said the focus should be on reassuring students of their safety and security.

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“To ask any questions and talk about their feelings and have their feelings validated when they have some big questions, but it’s also important for parents to keep their answers developmentally appropriate so that you don’t get too much in the weeds of the details the kids aren’t able to process," Granetz said.

The expectation is that different ages will handle their emotions differently.

"Sometimes kids, they might think this is probably going to happen as opposed to the possibility of it happening and trying to help talk to kids about that," Granetz said.

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It is also recommended to limit access to news and social media to help children better manage questions, concerns and misinformation.

Lastly, along with maintaining open communication, Granetz said it is just as important to provide students with the tools and resources they may need to handle their stress, sadness or anxiety.

"We need to keep a close eye, know what to look for and keep that open dialogue and communication and make sure they have the tools to deal with it," Granetz said.

You can find more information about efforts to help students in the aftermath of a school shooting through the National School Safety Center.

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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