Whenever a school shooting occurs, there are no words. Unfortunately, it has happened again. Although I write with a heavy heart, I know parents are seeking guidance, so, I have put together a few tips for parents to help their children in the wake of such a tragedy.
First, limit media exposure. Yes, the media has a responsibility to cover such events but you control the remote. Turn it off.
However, your child or teen will have questions, so have a conversation and provide age appropriate information.
Ask your child or teen questions so you get a sense of their thoughts and beliefs.
And encourage them to openly express their feelings.
It’s okay to express your thoughts and feelings as well, although don’t let them overwhelm the conversation as this is about your child or teen.
If you need to talk further, do so with a friend, family member or your partner, as it’s important for you as a parent to process this tragedy as well.
Validate that there are dangers in the world because unfortunately there are and you don’t want to dismiss your child’s fears or concerns.
Yet emphasize that there are people to protect them. Let them know how you attempt to protect them. Tell stories of the teachers or responding officers who helped the children involved.
Ensure your child or teen is aware of what to do in an emergency. This allows them to feel a sense of control, which helps them to feel safe.
Recognize signs and symptoms of when your child or teen is struggling. We often hide difficulties, so be on the look out for changes in sleeping or eating habits, withdrawal, sadness, irritability, acting out or anything that is not typical of your child’s behavior.
Seek counseling if you notice difficulties. And if your family or child was directly affected, utilize the support services available as soon as possible.
Finally, not only today but every day, try to have perspective on what is important. Hug your child everyday. Tell them you love them everyday.
My thoughts are with the families of the victims.