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Helping Children Cope After Sandy Hook School Shootings

Westlake City Schools and National Association of School Psychologists offer guidance to parents on talking with their children about the tragedy

Friday's horrific school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., has dominated the news since it happened.

Which means even children in Westlake can know what happened. And they'll need help processing it.

Westlake City Schools shared some information for parents and teachers from the National Association of School Psychologists on its website. Some tips include:

Helping children talk with you: Children may not always talk readily. If they hang around while you're doing something like loading the dishwasher, it may be a chance to start a conversation. Let them know it's all right to be upset or angry. They may need other outlets for what they're feeling, such as drawing, writing, reading or music. Use their comments and questions to guide your conversation.

Be age-appropriate: For younger elementary school children, keep information brief and simple and always with reassurances of safety and that adults are there to take care of them. As they get older, they may be more vocal in their opinions. It is also a good time to remind them that they can help by following safety rules and reporting any possible threats to school administrators.

Watch closely: Children may react to events like this with changes in appetite, behavior and sleeping. For many, these changes will pass with time and reassurance from adults. If a child has had previous or recent trauma, it's a good idea to consult with a mental health professional.

Remember the positive: Point out the way the way so many are showing support, and that there are a lot of good people out there helping.

Don't be afraid to tell: Teach children the difference between reporting a threat, and tattling or gossip. Parents and students can report any threat anonymously to the School Safety Line at 440-250-1199.

Click here for more tips from the National Association of School Psychologists. 

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