‘It’s important to have open and honest conversations’: Local adolescent therapist on talking to children about riots

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 8:12 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Krystal Tillman‘s 5-year-old and 8-year-old children were glued to the TV Wednesday afternoon, watching as an ugly history unfolded inside the nation’s Capitol.

“They kind of fell silent and watched for hours and really didn’t say much,” Tillman said. “It was really heartbreaking. When you decide to have children, you don’t envision them seeing things like that.”

The events put any adult who cares for children in a difficult situation.

Phyllis Garrett, a grandmother, said, “It was very disturbing for me and I had to put my anger aside.”

But, child psychologists say having that conversation is important.

Chelsea Plotner, an adolescent therapist at Capital Regional Medical Center, said, “They’re going to hear about it from friends.”

You can start by asking open-ended questions: “What have you seen, what have you heard? How are you feeling about it?”

Plotner also said to to validate their feelings, let them know you are listening and that letting them know they’re safe should be a priority.

“There’s going to be a lot of fear for safety, kids don’t always understand that something on tv isn’t happening in their town or their living space,” Plotner said.

Dr. Plotner says it’s important to have open and honest conversations with your children, and that there’s a number of great resources online for how to help your child navigate these times, including on the Leon County Schools website.

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