AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a hostage situation and SWAT call at a pediatric office in central Austin ended with two doctors being found dead Tuesday night, parents may be wondering how to address tragic events with their children.
Police said there weren’t any patients inside the Children’s Medical Group office at the time but hearing about what happened could be distressing for children who visit the office.
Although many would like to shield their kids from hearing about such events, when that’s not possible, Seanna Crosbie, Chief Program Officer of the Austin Child Guidance Center, says it’s important for adults to respond appropriately.
“One of the first things that parents can do is to step back and have a sense of how you feel about what happened and be able to process your feelings,” she said.
It’s recommended to invite your kids to have a conversation and let them ask questions.
“Really the key, key thing is to be able to focus on the feelings that your child shares with you,” she said. “So it’s less about, you know, correcting what happened or the information about what happened — although that’s helpful — but really being able to connect with your child around their feelings.”
Crosbie said another important point to touch on with your child is safety, because it’s important to make sure they feel safe when scary things occur.
“Parents can do things that can increase their child’s sense of felt safety,” Crosbie said.
She also explained how Austin Child Guidance Center has walk-in services (that are now being performed virtually) if you need professional help or counseling with their child.
“…And they can receive a virtual therapy session, and we can guide parents on ways to walk them through how to have these really difficult, hard conversations with their children,” she said.
The Austin Independent School District also offered counseling services to the Casis Elementary community Wednesday, as the victim in the SWAT call was a longtime parent of the school.
“Extra support from AISD counselors will also be available throughout the district, in addition to the continued presence of our campus counselors on staff. Please contact your campus for more information,” the district said.