Talking to Your Children About the Connecticut School Shooting
As parents it is difficult for us to swallow all that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But even as we are dealing with our own feelings about the situation that unfolded, we must help our children work through any feelings or questions that may have about this horrific scene.
Experts agree that it’s a very difficult conversation to have with your children, but it’s one that must be had. The important thing is to talk to your children and ask them exactly what they have seen, or heard about what took place. This way you can tailor your discussion to based on the age of your children, their questions, and exactly what they think took place.
Work Through Your Feelings
Before you talk to your children it’s best to get your own feelings in check about the school shooting that took place. Children tend to feed off of whatever their parents are feeling, so you must first figure out your feelings and work through them all before discussing it with your children of any age. It’s completely acceptable to let your children know how you are feeling about what happened. Open and honest conversations with your children will be very therapeutic for the whole family.
Look Out For Red Flags
Watch how your children’s behavior is affected by the school shooting that took place. Look for red flags such as
- changes in sleeping patterns
- losing desire to leave the house
- wetting the bed
- thumb sucking
If you notice any of these changes it’s important to have your children talk to an expert. The worst thing you can do as a parent is to ignore the symptoms and signs and brush it off as a phase.
Tips on How to Talk to Your Children
Encourage your children to talk through their feelings. Some kids may be a bit hesitant to discuss what is taking place within them. If this is the case you can prompt them by asking if they feel safe at school.
Validate their feelings. Do not minimize how your child may feel. Let them know that school violence is serious but also that it is not common. Stress to them that schools are a very safe place, and many studies have shown they are now safer than they have ever been before.
Discuss safety procedures that are in place at your children’s school. Explain to them why all visitors may have to sign in at the office, or why certain doors always are locked during the school day. Help them to understand why these precautions are in place.
Create a safety plan with your child. Help to identify with them which adults they can talk to should they feel threatened at school. Also make sure that your child knows how to reach you in case of an emergency or crisis during the school day. Remind them that they can talk with you anytime they may feel threatened.