I cannot get the frustration out of my mind after yet another school shooting. Every teacher in America has this in the back of mind. Every. Single. One. Of course children pick up on what adults say and maybe have seen or heard the news, so I am hoping these suggestions will help you as you parent.
Sandy Hook was the impetus for MH to work with FCC to install security codes on the two doors from the parking lot.
I remember when Columbine happened, there were two little boys in the Block Room acting out the news and trying in their own way to make sense of it.
Frankly, there is no sense to be made of this, but these suggestions may help you parent. I read a good article by Megan Erbacher in the Indianapolis Star on Sunday, February 18, 2018 based on her interview with a couple of experts. She started with a social worker at the YouthFirst nonprofit http://www.youthfirstinc.org/ in Evansville, Indiana. With full credit, I am paraphrasing her suggestions here:
1) Ask what they know
A good start is to ask your child questions, find out what they already know and ask for any questions. Parents want to have all the answers, but in reality, we really don’t and we need to accept that. If you have older kids in your household, it is likely conversations have already taken place with their friends. You need to gauge what your child/children already know and set the facts straight.
2) Keep your emotions in check
“Kids look to their parents for cues on how to react to situations, so it’s vital for parents and adults to remain calm during difficult times. “They are also listening to everything we say,” she said. “So being aware of our conversations with other adults with children nearby is really important.” (Clinical Services Director, Emily Morrison, at Lampion Center, http://www.lampioncenter.com/)
3) Tell the age appropriate truth
It’s easier to shield younger kids from graphic news stories and information on social media. However younger children may not understand that the event happened far away, especially because the news cycles over and over (and over). Parents need to tell the truth if the kids are asking questions.
4) Validate their feelings
Parents need to let kids know that it’s okay to feel sad, scared or angry, but resist the urge to say, “Don’t be scared.” Listen to what specific fears your child has.It’s okay to let your child know that you are scared and explain what you are doing to cope with the fear.
5) Help kids form resilient habits
Help your children learn how to channel anxiety into a healthy coping habit. Exercise, mindful breathing, singing or other ideas you may have will help. The best gift you can give your child are tools with which to cope and that is a lesson that will last a lifetime.
Nobody EVER said parenting was easy, and this is a perfect example. This is an incredibly difficult issue.
Best in parenting,
Ginny Hacker, Director