In the aftermath of the tragic Parkland, FL incident, it seems that whenever you turn on your TV the news is always covering some aspect of the incident; whether it is asking “Could this have been prevented?” to how to make schools safe. No matter how much we try to censor, our children are hearing this conversation daily. They are coming to us and expressing their worries about safety while attending school. What can we as parents do to help our children through these frightening times? Below are some tips to help you talk to your child:
Pay Attention, not just to what your child is saying but also what they do. Some children may come to you and ask to talk about it. Others may engage in drawing, or imaginative play, to share their feelings. So much depends upon the individual child and how he expresses himself. For example, if your child shy and timid, his anxiety may be expressed in seemingly unrelated ways.
Reiterate their safety. It is essential to reinforce the idea that regardless of where your child may be during the day, school or at home, there are always adults present who have a plan to keep them safe. Talk to them about many, many steps that are taken to ensure that they are safe at school.
Let their questions be your guide. Encourage open conversation and allow them to speak freely about their worries. Be prepared to answer all kinds of questions, and try to think through your responses prior to talking to them. Depending on your child’s age, your answers will vary greatly.
Take a break from the media… as best as you can. While it is wise to censor it at home, your child probably is seeing and hearing about the tragedy through social media. Still, you can and should encourage your child to take a break from the ongoing deluge of information surrounding the incident.
These tips are applicable for all children, regardless of age or ability. In our home, in the wake of the tragedy I have simply turned off the TV. We listen to the Weather Channel, but that’s it. The unfolding of the Parkland tragedy caused such anxiety and worry for Ryan that he didn’t feel safe leaving the house. We have had many conversations, with him asking many questions about what happened and why it happened and will it happen in Erie. We have revisited the plan of what he should do if he feels unsafe, which helps a great deal in making Ryan feel safe and in control. I can only pray that it will be a long time before we need to address this again!