By Linda Levin for SmartFem.com
It is frightening and sad to watch the news and hear horrific stories about children and teachers being killed in our schools. Who could do such a terrible thing to our precious children and teachers?
We all want to understand and know why this happens. As parents, educators, counselors and members of the community, we are left with uncertainties as to how we speak to our children about these shootings and feeling safe in an unsafe world.
Coming from the perspective of a Child Development Specialist, it is a good idea when you are talking to your child to make sure you use age-appropriate words. Words like “violence,” “mental illness,” “gun regulations,” and other expressions may need to be used in a more basic way. An example would be: “People who are bullies may want to get back at other people because they were bullied themselves or mean to them.”
Here are some tips and suggestions for talking to children about school shooting;
It is alright to admit that you don’t really know.
Talk about the school’s safety plans and procedures.
There are behavioral signs to recognize in young children when they experience a violent situation. Some children start wetting the bed, crying more often, thumb sucking and having problems sleeping alone.
Teens may also exhibit fears or behaviors after an frightening situation such as not wanting to return to school, grades dropping, withdrawing from the family, fearful dreams, using drugs and alcohol or becoming more argumentative.
You may need to take your child to a professional to receive help.
Empower your child with problem solving strategies
Empower your child with problem solving strategies such as if you hear or see bullying at your school or cyber bullying then report it to a counselor, teacher, principal, or parent to address the issue immediately. If you hear about an eating disorder, contact a nurse or counselor. If your child has a friend wanting to commit suicide then tell an adult close to them or a professional to get help.
Maintain an ongoing dialogue with your kids… Not just when it has to do with a crisis.