Expert: How to cope with trauma, mass shootings

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — There have now been three mass shootings making headlines in the United States in the past two weeks, which can be a difficult thing to explain to children when questions arise.

Experts say the most important thing for both adults and kids to know is that we are not alone when healing from these tragedies and there’s nothing wrong with reaching out for help.

“That is one of the things that comes with this type of gun violence, is it can cause people to be afraid to go places, to do things, and to not let fear or those people who have engaged in those acts take away your life,” said Dr. Valencia Agnew, a child psychologist in Grand Rapids.

Agnew says we need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves.

“There’s so much happening that is overwhelming. We have to replenish some way, if we’re not replenishing, it’s like, we’re just take, take, take,” said Agnew.

Replenishing can look like self-care, self-nurturing, eating right, listening to each other, and doing the same for kids.

“Asking them, how are they feeling and paying attention to their play,” said Agnew. “They could just be reenacting something that is more aggressive or that’s more trauma-based or more fear-based. Having some conversations with them and letting them know that not everyone is violent.”

Agnew says by noticing red flags in our mental health early on can prevent dealing with tougher issues in the future.

“We’re strong and we can do this,” said Agnew.

Agnew also says it’s important to recognize limits and know that everyone may not have the same emotional energy to talk about these hard topics.

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