PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – As mass shootings feel more commonplace, creating a “fatigue” for those hearing the news, a mental health specialist is sharing ways that parents and caregivers can talk to their children about shootings.

Mental health specialist, Eddie Carrillo, says it’s important for parents or caregivers to listen to their kids to see how they’re processing the news.

“We want our kids to know we’re there to listen. We want to be able to see where they’re at with the news, where they’ve interpreted any news or media that they’ve consumed and see what kind of impact has happened and what they need moving forward,” Carrillo said.

Carrillo, a licensed mental health specialist at Sherwood High School, noted the kind of support kids or teens need to process these events vary as some kids might not need a lot of support or others might have questions they need answered.

He also says it’s important for parents or caregivers to see how they themselves are impacted by the news; especially as mass shootings become commonplace.

“Unfortunately, it’s felt like it’s happened consistently over the last number of years, and we might feel almost like fatigue when news like this happens. So, we want to ask ourselves if we’re ready to have these conversations. If we’re not ready, we want to see what it is that we need in order to be ready,” Carrillo said.

He also says how parents talk to kids or teens about mass shootings depends on their age.

“Some experts say that around age eight is appropriate to have these conversations, but it really depends on the kid. Any ages lower than eight, and maybe if they’re not ready, we want to do our best to protect them from any kind of news like that,” Carrillo said.

If the kid or teen is ready to talk about it, Carrillo says to “focus on the positives,” including how quickly help got to the situation and noted, “we want to keep information factual for these kids. As we get older children, teens, it is a good idea to see how they’re interpreting the news, see how they’re being impacted, see how they’re understanding the news.”

From there, he says, parents can see how they can lead the conversation.

“In my time working with teens, I think this generation tends to be very solution focused. So, with that in mind, we want to help them come up with ways that they feel safe, they feel empowered and that they feel like they can be in control of their situation,” Carrillo said.

He also noted that parents might not know what to do or feel helpless when talking to their kids about shootings but said “one of the most important things that they can do to make the situation better is to continue to provide their kids and teens with a safe and protective home environment.”

Carrillo says to look for changes in children’s behavior or mood after they’re exposed to the news as possible signs they may be impacted by the news of the incident.

“There’s trauma that’s been acted on us that we experience directly whether it’s something violent or something physical,” Carollo explained. “There’s also perceived trauma. If our kid or teen is feeling impacted, maybe traumatized, by something that happened – even if you or I don’t feel impacted – it’s important that we acknowledge that. That’s a reminder to us that we don’t perceive things the same way, we’re not impacted the same way.”

Parents and caregivers can reach out for help for their children through pediatricians, other medical professionals or seek advice from school counselors, teachers or staff who can help provide insight on how to help.