The Uvalde, TX school shooting is so many things—tragic, senseless, terrifying. It has also been described as unimaginable, but unfortunately, it is not. And whether our kids are old enough to remember Sandy Hook, Parkland or Columbine, many of them are asking hard-to-answer questions today. Even if your child is not asking any questions, how and when should you be talking to them about what they might be hearing about at school or seeing on the news? We spoke to The Local Moms Network Psychology Contributor Reon Baird, PhD about how she not only advises clients to talk to their children about school violence, but how she’s talking to her own two young daughters about Texas.
1. Make time to talk to your kids about what happened.
As parents, we don’t look forward to being the provider of negativity or information that can impact our children’s feelings of safety, however, informing them of tragedies and violence like today’s school shooting allows them to feel safe and comforted when expressing their feelings to you. It’s important to be accurate and provide factual information.
2. Monitor access to the news and social media.
This allows them the opportunity to process their feelings without repeated exposure to violence.
3. Be cognizant of your own feelings.
Children model your behavior and are often aware of your worry. Take the time you need to seek support before talking with your kids so that when your kids express their feelings and emotions, you can be present with them.
4. Validate their feelings.
Allow your child(ren) the opportunity to process their thoughts and share their feelings. Listen to them. Let them know that it’s ok to have feelings and be prepared to answer the same question(s) repeatedly.
5. Maintain their daily routines.
This helps with providing a feeling of control and safety, and don’t forget to hug and love on them a bit more each day.
Story by Reon Baird-Feldman, PhD
Photo credit: Christopher Lee/NYTimes
For more advice on this difficult topic:
National Association of School Psychologists