How to Talk to Your Kids about School Shootings
When children see tragic events like disasters or school shootings on television or on Web-based news flashes, it is natural for them to worry about their own school and their own safety, particularly if the violence occurred nearby or in a neighboring city or state.
Parents should acknowledge to children that bad things do happen. It is important to reassure children that the adults in their lives are doing everything they can to make their environment — school, home and neighborhood — safe for them.
Whatever the age of your child, it’s important to offer extra reassurance and support following a traumatic event. A child’s reaction to a disaster or traumatic event can be greatly influenced by their parents’ response, so it’s important to educate yourself about traumatic stress. With your love and support, the unsettling thoughts and feelings of traumatic stress can start to fade and your child’s life can return to normal in the days or weeks following the event.
Parents should also monitor how much exposure a child has to news reports of traumatic events, including these recent school shootings. Research has shown that some young children believe that the events are reoccurring each time they see a television replay of the news footage.
Most children are quite resilient and will return to their normal activities and personality relatively quickly, but parents should be alert to any signs of anxiety that might suggest that a child or teenager might need more assistance. Such indicators could be a change in the child's school performance, changes in relationships with peers and teachers, excessive worry, school refusal, sleeplessness, nightmares, headaches or stomachaches, or loss of interest in activities that the child used to enjoy. Also remember that every child will respond to trauma differently. Some will have no ill effects; others may suffer an immediate and acute effect. Still others may not show signs of stress until sometime after the event.
Here are 5 tips to help your child
Tip 1 – Minimize Media Exposure
Limit your child’s media exposure to the traumatic event. As much as possible, watch the news reports of the traumatic event with your child to reassure them. Turn off the TV that may be on all day to your favorite news channel.
Tip 2 – Engage Your Child
Provide your child with ongoing opportunities to talk. Don’t pressure them to talk but create opportunities while walking, cooking, or taking a drive. Do “normal” things with your child.
Tip 3 – Encourage Physical Activity
This is the way to burn off adrenaline, release mood-enhancing endorphins, and help your child to sleep better at night.
Tip 4 – Healthy Foods
The foods your child eats has a profound impact on her or her mood and ability to cope with traumatic stress. Limit process foods, high carb snacks, and sugary drinks.
Tip 5 – Rebuild Trust and Safety
Your child may find the world a lot more frightening and more difficult to trust other people. You can help by rebuilding your child’s sense of safety and security by managing your own stress. Your child picks up on your fears and worries so the more calm, relaxed, and focused you are, the better able you’ll be to help your child.
Family Resource Center
We have resources available to every school building in Allen, Auglaize, and Hardin Counties through our School Navigator Program. School Navigators screen students for mental health and substance related issues and connect them with appropriate resources in each community. School Navigators offer consultation, targeted groups, brief crisis management, and attend team meetings at the schools.
In addition, we provide a number of prevention resources to each school in order to help our children stay emotionally strong. For more information go to: www.wecarepeople.org