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How to talk to your children in the aftermath of a school shooting

13News Now spoke with child & family psychologist Dr. Adolph Brown about navigating conversations with youngsters, following the deadly school shooting in Nashville.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — In the wake of the Nashville school shooting, families here in Hampton Roads will likely have to navigate difficult conversations in the coming days.

Virginia Beach clinical psychologist and host of ABC's "The Parent Test" Dr. Adolph Brown or "Doc Brown" shared tips on how parents approach those tough conversations with children. 

"People often start by saying, 'How do you talk to your children?' It's best to listen to your children," said Doc Brown. "What do they know about the situation? How do they feel about it? Do they feel safe? Do they feel like their friends are safe? Once we listen to our children, then we have to model a reaction for our children... the children are watching us more than they listen."

Metro Nashville police said Monday's incident at The Covenant School left three young students, three adult staffers, and the shooter dead. The suspected shooter, a 28-year-old resident of Nashville, was believed to have attended the small, private Christian school. 

"There are many correlates that bring a person to that position. One, in particular, we don't talk enough about is a culture of revenge," said Brown. "That's not something that's taught. We all have that instinct, but we have to make sure as parents and guardians that our children know that revenge often makes things worse."

Brown also touched on the importance of catering or customizing your delivery of the news, depending on your child's age. 

"[It's] extremely important, based on what happened, based on your child's age, but also going back to listening, your child may not even know, but if they know, find out how much they know and then be factual," Brown added. 

He also said to be prepared for your child to have a reaction. 

"That doesn't mean we don't talk to them. If they become tearful, if they become frightened, that's more reason to talk to them," Brown said. 

13News Now also asked Brown what happens if the child is not ready to talk about it.

"You wait until they're ready. You don't want to force your child to talk about things they're not ready for, but what you do say as a parent or guardian, 'I'm here for you when you're ready to,'" he said. 

Additionally, Brown recommended parents limit children's social media or television exposure to the type of scenes, like those shown outside The Covenant School. 

And if you're a local parent uneasy about sending your child to school, Brown suggested reaching out to representatives for your school division. That way, you can find out firsthand what types of safety and security plans are already in place.

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