Experts discuss how to talk with children about circus accident

Aletha Wood says she was at the circus with her two children Sunday when eight acrobats plummeted to the ground during an aerial hair-hanging stunt.

Aletha Wood was at the circus Sunday at the Dunkin' Donuts Center with her father and two children, 3-year-old Logan and 4-year-old Chatham.

She was recording an aerial hair-hanging stunt when eight circus acrobats plummeted to the ground.

"It was very shocking," Wood said. "It looked like they had been crushed. Many of them weren't moving."

"My daughter's initial reaction was, 'Oh my gosh. That's why it's so dangerous. I hope that never happens again. That's why you don't do it at home.' She gave her brother a hug and said, 'I hope that doesn't happen to you Logan' and she turned to my Papa and said, 'That's so terrible. I hope they're OK.'"

Sarah Kelly-Palmer works as a licensed social worker with Family Service of Rhode Island. Her specialty is children with trauma. She says one of the best things a parent can do is talk to their child about what happened, even young ones.

"Don't assume. Kids are very, very perceptive," she said.

Teenagers are especially at risk because they may not want to talk about it.

Palmer suggests parents try something like, "It was really scary at the circus (Sunday), and I'm wondering how you're feeling, I know that I was feeling very scared," Kelly-Palmer said.

Wood's children wanted to talk about what happened again Sunday, and they did.

Kelly-Palmer said it's OK. She said it becomes a problem when there are persistent mood or appetite changes, lack of sleep or nightmares.

Parents can call Family Services of Rhode Island at 401-331-1350.