We are all shocked and sadened by the horrifying school shooting today in Connecticut. Most of all, our children will be scared and confused – worried that it could happen at their own home or school.
While, of course, we know that it is impossible to guarantee safety, at this time, it is very important to offer reassurance and security to our kids in order to help them feel emotionally secure. Some ways to support your child right now include:
- Listen to your child or teen as he voices worries and fears; offer understanding and patience.
- Don't dismiss your child or teens feelings or fears. There is no right or wrong way to respond to a tragic and scary incident like this.
- Talk about the specific ways that your child is safe and secure at home. Remind her that you keep the house locked, and always have an adult caring for her and that the reason you set limits. and boundaries is to keep her safe.
- Explain to your child that tragedies like this are VERY, VERY rare and that even though it happened in this school, you feel sure that their school is safe and takes specific safety measures to make sure the kids are safe.
- Shield younger children from media about the tragedy; it will play over and over again and fill them with fear and worry.
- Resist the urge to discuss the incident in presence of children. The more they hear you talk about it, the more it will scare them.
- While it may seem unrelated, it will help your child to feel secure when you provide predictable routines, a warm and loving home environment, and a calm response to situations that may make you upset or angry (including misbehavior).
- Ask your school's administration what they are doing to support students in school that express concerns and find out if your child's classroom teacher has been offered support for ways to talk to kids about the shooting or fears related to it.
- Seek professional help for your child if she shows new signs of anxiety, stress or depression such as: trouble sleeping, crying, anger, seperation anxiety, clinginess, constant discussion about the topic.