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Omaha organization offers advice on talking with kids about tragedy

Head of Project Harmony says it’s ‘very OK’ to tell kids when you don’t know the answers.
As the search for missing 11-year-old Ryan Larsen continues, Project Harmony offered tips to help talk with children about it.
Updated: May. 23, 2021 at 6:53 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As the search for 11-year-old Ryan Larsen continues, experts with Project Harmony are offering tips for parents on how to talk to children about situations like these.

“No feeling is a bad feeling,” Executive Director Gene Klien said.

Project Harmony offers services and resources for children who have experienced traumatic events. With more than 300 staff, including law enforcement, the Omaha organization is a safe space for children.

Now that school is ending for summer break, Klien says it’s important that parents be prepared to have conversations — including questions about the search for missing 11-year-old Ryan — with their kids.

“Asking them how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking, and don’t hesitate to clarify, ‘why do you feel that way?’” Klien says. “Be careful not to stop a feeling, if a child says they’re anxious or worried, don’t say ‘don’t worry about that,’ or ‘you don’t need to worry about that.’ Ask them why — ‘why are they worried? ‘What are they afraid of?’ ”

Klien says being tuned into what’s happening locally and talking about it with your children is always the best thing to do.

“I think if your child has questions or specific questions it’s OK to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘we don’t know.’ And as adults, staying tuned into the breaking news but limiting that to your children and their exposure to that — maybe watching that and helping them understand what’s going on. But it’s very OK to say ‘I don’t know.’”

For more on how to have conversations like these, you can visit the Project Harmony website.

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