SAN DIEGO — Parents across the country are trying to figure out the best way to talk to their kids about Tuesday's mass shooting in Texas.
"Parents have to be really careful what they say to their kids and how they say it," said psychiatrist Dr. Michael Lardon. "We, as parents, have a tremendous emotional response to [the shooting], but we don’t want to project that response onto our kids. That will only heighten their angst and anxiety."
He said you generally don't need to address the shooting with kids eight or younger, unless they bring it up. High schoolers will probably want to talk about it.
"You need to fish with them and ask them how they feel? Do they feel anxious? If they don’t feel safe, you need to process that with them and reassure them they are safe," he said.
He recommends really getting specific with your kids. You want to address their fears precisely. Ask them 'What are you most concerned about?' and then reassure them they are safe.
One tip he mentioned regarding younger kids is have them write a letter to the police or fire department, thanking them for keeping us safe.
He said it's important to limit what your child sees on television when it comes to news coverage about this shooting. 'Secondary PTSD' can reinforce this trauma and make it worse for them.
"You want to encourage your kids to still play with their peers, still have a normal life. It’s really important to observe your children make sure you’re not seeing a change in behavior," he said.
If you find they're becoming more withdrawn or having a lot of nightmares, he said it may be time to seek out a professional.
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