We are all devastated by the latest school shooting. Here are some helpful advice from the National Association of School Psychologists and the American Association of Psychologists.
Helpful Guidelines to Keep in Mind
Conversations with children must be developmentally appropriate.
‘Young children are not able to process the complexities of violence in the same way that adolescents and young adults are prepared to discuss the issue. Young children often gauge how threatening an event is by adult reactions (i.e., if caregivers act scared and frightened, young children will view the event as scary and frightening). They may be confused by what they hear and may have basic fear responses such as bad dreams, resistance to separate from their parent, and/or crying and clinginess. They respond well to basic assurances by adults and simple examples of school safety like reminding children about exterior doors being locked, child monitoring efforts on the playground, and emergency drills practiced during the school day.’
‘Older children and teenagers may have more information about an event as they are commonly able to access information independent of adults via the Internet and television. For these youth, it is important to discuss issues openly emphasizing the efforts of school and community leaders to provide safe schools. It is also important to emphasize the role that students have in maintaining safe schools by following school safety guidelines (e.g. not providing building access to strangers, reporting strangers on campus, reporting threats to the school safety made by students or community members, etc.), communicating any personal safety concerns to school administrators, and accessing support for emotional needs. ‘
(This information comes from the website The National Association of School Psychologists.)
Parents should reassure their children that they are safe and protected.
‘Parents need to talk with their children and validate their feelings. Children’s questions guide what and how much information to provide. Be open to opportunities to talk when children are ready. Be honest about their own feelings related to violence, and emphasize the positive things that child/family/school can do to stay safe. They should be aware of signs that their child might be in distress, e.g., changes in behavior, anxiety, sleep problems, acting out, problems at school or with academic work. Be conscious of media exposure and what they say about the event. Limit television viewing, (be aware if the television is on in common areas). Developmentally inappropriate information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children. Adults also need to be mindful of the content of conversations that they have with each other in front of children, even teenagers, and limit their exposure to vengeful, hateful, and angry comments that might be misunderstood.’
Another helpful link for information about helping children is The American Psychological Association
Please give your children lots of love and comfort but especially reassurance that they are safe.
Blessings to all.