I wasn’t sure if I was going to write a post on this subject.
It would be a lot easier to keep going … focus on the holiday fun, continue with Christmas crafting and baking. I figured there’s lots of great resources already out there on how to handle helping kids deal with the tragedy of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But the more I read and gathered articles to help parents of my clients on how to address this issue I realized that it might be helpful (for others and myself) to have my own round-up of resources and share some of my thoughts.
Here are some resources that you may find helpful in discussing this trauma with children:
- Children and Trauma (14 Resources for Parents) from B-Inspired Mama
- Tips for Talking to Children After Disaster from SAMHSA
- Talking to Children about the School Shooting from Susan Stiffelman
- 14 Tips for Managing Anxiety After the Shootings from Susan Stiffelman
- Helping Children Handle Disaster Related Anxiety from Mental Health America
- Tips for Helping Students Recovering from Traumatic Events from the U.S. Department of Education
- Caring for Kids Trauma, Disaster and Death: A Guide for Parents and Professionals from New York University Child Study Center
- Connecticut School Shootings: What to Tell Your Kids from ABC News
- Connecticut School Shootings: 4 Tips to Help Kids Cope from ABC News
- Talking with Kids about News from PBS Parents
Here are some of the key points …
- Restrict or limit your child’s exposure to the news
- Find out what, if anything, your child knows first
- Make sure discussions on the subject are age/developmentally appropriate for the child (if talking to more than one child make sure it is appropriate for the youngest child!)
- Most of the time less is more
- EMPHASIZE that the situation is over. It is common for children to believe that a tragedy is happening over and over again when they see it on TV or hear about it from others.
- Make sure you are available to talk with your kids later that day/week/month so they can ask any questions or just talk about it more … and let them know that.
We all need to find a way to process and attempt to understand this horrible tragedy. Some people try to find someone or something to blame … point a finger at, to let us know that we are okay, give a sense of security so that we can go on functioning in our daily lives. We’re slammed with media updates, Facebook posts, tweets, etc stating the need for more gun control, blaming Autism, and even a viral hoax statement saying it’s the medias fault.
The truth is … it’s no ONE thing. No ONE thing leads someone to do something to this nature. It’s not just better gun control (people who want to harm and kill others can find other needs). It’s not a specific mental health diagnosis (there is WAY to much variation of symptoms and severity even within a single diagnosis to narrow the tragedy to this). It’s not the media, although some crimes may be committed for glorification in the media that is not the motive of many others. It’s just not that simple.
There are some things I can we can examine to help us all move forward after this. We need to help others be able to find and have access to better resources for mental health issues. Changes in the mental health field have been outstanding in so many ways in how professionals can help people who need it. But in other ways the mental health field is letting society down and putting people at risk due the amount of drastic cuts that have been made to funding. This issue needs to be examined and forced into the light.
I highly recommend reading this article, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” written by Liza Long and this one, “I am Adam Lanza’s psychiatrist” , if you haven’t already, to help illustrate this very real problem. Parenting is difficult enough with healthy children. Think how difficult it would be to raise a child with a emotional impairment. Think about how difficult it would be if there are limited or no resources for that child.
To close I’d like to add that this senseless act of violence is a reminder of how precious every moment, every second, is with our children. Hold them close, snuggle their heads, breathe in the way they smell, listen to what they say, notice the things they don’t, and ENJOY AND LOVE them with all of your heart. Life goes by too fast and can change in an instant.