(CBS NEWS) — Parents are often afraid to bring up topics like the Texas school shooting because they don’t want to worry their kids, but psychologists say avoiding the conversation can make the situation even scarier for children.

“We want kids to learn about big traumatic things from a trusted adult,” said Dr. Jamie Howard, a senior clinical psychologist with the Child Mind Institute. “If they learn about it from other kids on the playground, homeroom or overhearing it on the radio, in a store, then they are going to hear potentially more sensational bits. They are not going to have accurate information,”

The conversations can start with children around school age, Howard said.

“An opener is, ‘You know, I’m feeling really sad about a news story that I saw and I wonder if you have heard about it,’ she said. “You don’t want to jump in with a lengthy detailed explanation because it might be more than they need and more then they want.”

Howard said parents can remind kids that, statistically, this kind of violence is still very unlikely to happen at their school and that they can talk about what safety measures are in place.

“They practice stay-put drills in their school where the doors are locked and they stay quiet,” Howard said. “And I don’t even think my daughter knew what they were for. So, they weren’t so scary to her, but now she has a better understanding that they are to help keep her safe,” she said.

Howard also said it’s OK for parents to look sad or angry, but parents should be mindful of their emotions because big emotions from a parent can also scare children.

Parents should also keep a close eye on changes in a child’s emotions, behavior, appetite or sleep, which can be signs that a child is feeling anxious.

The National Association of School Psychologists offers more advice on its webpage. The organization said doing things that are enjoyable, sticking to routines and being with friends and family can help make children feel better and keep them from worrying.