I grieve with all of you. I will try my best to offer some healing as we get more details about this horrific tragedy. Many have asked for tips on speaking to children. It is difficult when the pain is so raw and the emotions still so fresh. Please know that these tips are NOT for people who are immediately affected by this or those who live in Connecticut. Please inbox me directly if you are in that category.
For the rest of us I humbly offer what I will be doing in my own home:
1) Keep kids away from the television. Media outlets tend to give us raw emotions. That is not what your children need to see right now.
2) Children are on a “Need to Know” basis. Be honest without providing too many details and be developmentally appropriate.
3) Be on the lookout for trauma responses in your children and notify a professional for help if they are evident (avoiding school, wanting to know more information than necessary, unusually fearful, problems sleeping, and avoidant behavior).
4) They can sense fear and sadness in your eyes…our goal is to help them feel safe. Sometimes parenting requires our best acting skills. I tell my clients to practice talking like a news reporter…calm…just stating facts. Do what you need to do to help your kids feel safe.
5) Try to help them feel there is still someone in charge and in control. Kids depend on us to protect and control situations (even when we cannot control and protect them everywhere). Highlight the ways adults are working to protect children and will do so even more now (i.e. the president, law officials, etc.) Even if you don’t believe that you must give this message to your children. We cannot pass on our feelings (mine included) of “What has the world come to?” Remember they will hopefully be in this world longer than we will. So we need to express that there is order and protection and that authorities will work together on this incident.
6) Lastly, PRAYER AND FAITH. If you practice a religion/spiritual practice in your home, now is the time to call on God. Teach children that FAITH is important and that what is too hard for humans, is not too hard for God.
Hope this helps some….again, I am very humbly presenting what will happen in my household.
Wishing you all healing,