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Reassuring Children in the Aftermath of Traumatic Events

PHOTO:   CREDIT: Leonid Mamchenkov
PHOTO: CREDIT: Leonid Mamchenkov
April 23, 2013

LAS VEGAS - In the aftermath of another deadly day in America, parents are being reminded how such events can emotionally traumatize young children. According to psychologist Korenna Barto, the images and stories splashed everywhere can have a negative impact on a child's well-being, and that's why parents need to provide a safe haven and a secure base.

"And it really just means that you have a person or persons that you know you can always turn to that make you feel safe and valued and help provide an emotional and psychological compass or barometer," she said.

Barto stated that a safe haven and secure base are especially important for children through age five.

The key to providing such a safe base to your children, Barto said, is consistency.

"When children don't get that consistency, they don't feel that their parents, who are there every day, they wake up to, they go to bed to, doesn't give them as secure of a base, as secure a feeling, as someone who is consistently available."

One way to provide such consistency, Barto said, is with regular scheduling of everything from bedtime to family events, and that can be as easy as eating dinner together.

"Special moments where you can even just tune out everything else for just ten minutes and focus purely on one child at a time" are what's needed, she said. "It does wonders for feeding that secure base, and I think family dinners are a great example of that."

A variety of resources on talking to children about tragedy can be found online, at AttachmentParenting.org.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NV