OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) -- As the search for 11-year-old Ryan Larsen continues in Omaha, Nebraska, parents may have questions about how to talk to their children about when a child goes missing.
The school district where Larsen attends brought in counselors and is working with Project Harmony, a child advocacy center, to help assist parents in these conversations.
Gene Klein, Executive Director of Project Harmony, says kids understand more than adults give them credit for.
"Kids are connected through social media today, even young, young children. So as a parent, monitor what are they watching, what are they listening to, stay in touch with them, what have you heard," Klein said.
He suggests parents allow children to lead the conversation. Ask your child what they know or have heard and allow their answers to drive the conversation. He also says to validate their feelings as they may have many big emotions in relation to situations like this.
"I think the very basic is to ask them how they feel about this, what are they feeling, what are they experiencing and to acknowledge those feelings. Sometimes as adults we want to assure them they’re safe and nothing like this would ever happen to them, which is important, but we don’t want to misguide them and diminish their feelings," Klein said.
"It’s probably more important for a parent to say, 'why do you feel that way,' and, 'let’s talk about that.'"
Klein says it's okay to tell your children that you don't have all the information.
He also suggests clearing up any misconceptions children may have picked up.
Project Harmony has a helpful guide for parents at https://projectharmony.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Responding2TraumaticEvents.pdf.