Today brought shocking and tragic news about shootings at an elementary school in Connecticut. We are hoping that most of our young children can be protected from this news. However, especially some children in the older Groups may hear about it. Our School Psychologists offer us the advice below and some ideas to help you talk about the situation in your family.
First, listen closely to what your children have heard so you know what information they do and don’t have. Try to figure out what questions and worries it brings up for them.
As you address their concerns, it is important to keep in mind that they need honesty, but also reassurance that this is not going to happen to them. Perhaps keeping these three ideas in mind as you talk with them will be helpful.
1) It is a rare event. Children don’t understand probability very well, especially depending on their age. One idea I often recommend is that parents use themselves and their experience as a way to show this. “I am X years old, and no child I know has ever had this happen at their school. Yes, it can happen, but rarely does.”
2) The adults in their lives are working to keep them safe, as is the school. That’s why we have a security door by Linda’s desk in the front, and why a grown-up is always at dismissal to make sure that no one who isn’t supposed to be in school is in school. We will all continue to think hard and work hard to keep school safe.
3) People who kill others are very disturbed and mentally sick. They likely have been this way for a very long time and they didn’t get the help they need. Parents, teachers and people who work at school make sure that no one who is that troubled is ever around children.
The youngest children just need to know that you are going to keep them safe. They believe that you, their parents, are very big and strong and almost as capable as Superman. It’s okay to use that imagery if they find out about this news.
Best wishes for a peaceful weekend with your children.