How to Discuss School Shootings and Death with your Children
Parents will sometimes try to protect their children from the news of tragedy, death, and why people die or choose to kill. Unfortunately this is a reality that our children today have to face too often. You might be thinking they are too young or won't understand. Maybe you don't know how to bring it up. To avoid your child hiding their feelings or going through prolonged denial, it is important that you be the one to talk to your children directly about these things. Create open communication about these topics or your child could find out misinformation from the media or peers.
- Always be honest
- It's ok to not have all the answers
- Validate their feelings
- Talk to them on their level
- It's ok to calmly express your fears and concerns.
If the discussion is about school shootings:
- Review that there are different kinds of disasters that can happen (e.g. earthquakes)
- Come up with a plan and make sure your child knows that, in the case there is a school shooting or crisis, you will be there as soon as you can
- Creating a family safety plan can help
- Limit their exposure to the news
- Refrain from discussion that individuals are "bad" but rather focus on the choices people make. Sometimes life circumstances lead people to make bad decisions that hurt others.
Be aware of your child's feelings. Check in on them and encourage them to speak openly. You might consider counseling if your child starts having nightmares, anxiety or symptoms that look like depression. The worst thing you can do is ignore the situation and not talk about it at home.