In the wake of Friday’s tragedy we pray for the lives lost in the Connecticut school shooting. Upon hearing the news, my emotional spectrum ranged from shocked to grief-stricken. My heart hurts for the grieving families affected by this tragedy and no parent should ever have to experience a loss such as this.
During these moments of crisis, it is important for parents to understand how to calm your child’s fears. You may face tough questions from your child(ren) fearing something like this could happen to them. Please remember children of different ages and developmental levels will react differently to this tragedy. Here are some helpful suggestions on how to talk to your child about traumatic events.
Be Prepared for Questions
The most essential key for parents is to listen to what your child is asking and be specific when responding. Answer questions directly, honestly, but at your child’s level of understanding. Remember, your child is asking a question because he/she already has some information, and is only seeking clarity. Provide them with only the basics and help them feel safe.
*** You may discuss the steps Holy Angels School is currently undertaking as extra precautions to ensure that our students, families and school staff remain safe ***
Increase Parental Readiness and Decrease Media
After a crisis, children fear the possibility of re-experiencing the event when they constantly see and hear the event on the news, Internet and tabloids. Limit the amount of media coverage because the images alone can be traumatic. Be available physically and emotionally to provide a safe space for children to express their emotions. You want them to talk about it so you can support their feelings and reassure their safety.
“I’m really scared,” can be supported with, “I/We will keep you safe.” Rather than responding with, “You don’t need to be scared,” because it’s important to acknowledge and respect their feelings.
Empower your Child
Offer comfort, peace and hope. Encourage your child he/she can make this world a better place – say a prayer at home, attend religious services, create a sympathy or holiday card, or even help a neighbor. Right now your child needs Hope, and the world needs Love. Your child’s actions may not affect Connecticut directly, but it will impact his/her community. If your child feels their actions helps improve the situation, their fears are reduced.
Keep the lines of communication open and be willing to do a lot of listening. Children need to know they are safe. A night’s discussion may not be enough to calm your child’s fears. A helpful article/link on the subject of discussing tragedy in the media with children: