As parents, it is terrifying to consider the shooting in Connecticut. It is unfathomable that so many innocent children were randomly killed. If your kids are old enough to understand that children were killed while they were at school, you need to be prepared to answer questions and help your children feel safe.
If you want your children to feel safe, turn off the TV. Younger children will often believe that every time they see news coverage of the Connecticut shooting that another shooting has occurred. Hearing about and watching coverage of the shooting can traumatize your children and you. If you want updates about the shooting, read about it. Reading about it is much less traumatizing than watching video footage.
Don’t tell children about the shooting if they are not aware of it. The shooting has gotten little attention in my home. I suspect that the kids in my home will have many more questions after school tomorrow because other kids will have watched media coverage of the shooting.
Another way you can help your children feel safe is by spending time with them. Your presence alone is comforting to them. With this being a holiday season, you can find a lot of natural ways to spend time with your children. You can decorate, bake, or watch a favorite holiday movie.
If your children are old enough to be aware of the shooting and are scared it could happen at their school, take some time to find out about your school’s security procedures. Schools generally have policies and procedures in place to protect children. Many schools will be posting those policies prominently on their websites because they know parents and children want to feel safe.
A final strategy to help your children feel safe is to tell the stories of the heroes of Sandy Hook Elementary. Don’t let your kids dwell on the shooter and deaths of the children. Tell your students the stories of the heroic children and teachers who saved the lives of others. There are many more stories of heroism than we generally tell. I’m going to post those stories of heroes over the next several days so you can share them with your children.
Let’s not make the shooter the focus of the story. Let’s make the teachers and students who saved others that day the focus of what our children hear. I’d rather kids heard the stories of heroes rather than stories of murderers.