FREDERICK, Colo. — The deaths of Shannan Watts and her daughters have dominated social media and news feeds.
Many children know all of the developing details before they even get home from school.
“It’s really scary how quickly kids get information, and then how quickly the information can get construed,” said Julie Reynolds, a licensed professional counselor.
“They hear it on the radio, see it on social media, their phones, the TV and their computers.”
But Reynolds said it is hard for a child to process that a parent is accused of killing his family.
“When they hear these things, their safety bubble kind of pops, and so it can be very distressing to kids,” she said. “Their No. 1 concern that they have is, could that happen to me?
“And you are going to help them realize these things are in place so that that doesn’t happen to you.”
Parents should know the information is out there, and if a child isn’t ready for it, limit their opportunities.
“I have a daughter who is in third grade and I wouldn’t want her to hear these details that are coming out,” she said.
Reynolds suggests starting an open-ended conversation that is age appropriate. Younger kids should not have details.
Then let the child guide the conversation as you reassure them.