Being a parent can be the scariest thing. But something even scarier is when your child’s life is threatened. When tragic events occur like school shootings its hard to make sense of how people could act in such an extreme and hateful manner. This topic is even hard for adults to comprehend and brings up many negative emotions like fear, anxiety, depression, and sadness. Imagine how our children must feel! Today’s blog is about how to talk to your kids about deadly shootings.
Step 1. Actually Talk to your kids about the shooting.
Many parents might need to sort through their own emotional content first, but it is definitely helpful to open the lines of communication about events like this. Kids DO NOT need to know the graphic details, especially when they are younger, they just need to know a terrible thing has happened and that you are there to talk with them.
Many parents believe if we do not talk about it then it will go away. This is a false. Take a few minutes to check-in with your children.
Step 2. Talk about emotions.
When events like this occur I have seen a wide variety of responses from children. The emotions vary from “I am OK” to “I can’t sleep at night because I’m imagining this happening at my school”.
Ask your kids if they are feeling worried, sad, or fearful that something like this could occur. Do not shy away from the big scary feelings, they need to be processed for your child to get through them.
Step 3. Talk about getting help.
Explain to your children that people who hurt others need help.
Although we cannot change what has happened in the past we can get help for ourselves and others when our emotions feel very big and troubling. We can offer help when we see others in pain. We are all our brother’s keeper.
If adults, adolescents, or children see others even joking about hurting themselves or others we need to reach out to trusting professionals to connect the hurting person with the help they need. As a parent, you can model this pro-social behavior. Look for opportunities to show how you can help others.
Today’s topic is much more sad as we recall all the lost lives our country has experienced as a result of mass shootings. I am hoping this helps build healthier families and communities.