Your Children and the Aftermath of the Colorado Shootings
It has happened again. A dreadful event has broken through our sense of safety in our own communities. The news complete with interviews and diagrams of how the shootings happened is everywhere–on the internet, the TV, the radio, and in the newspaper. I hope that you have been able to shield younger children (like 8 and younger)from this exposure.
However, it is likely that your children have heard about the tragedy. I want to share with you a few resources that I think are quite helpful in guiding parents as they support their children at this time. These articles emphasize six basic steps.
1 Be aware of your own feelings and how you might be communicating them to your child. Take care of yourself.
2. Limit access to news at this time. The repeated exposure is likely to be more upsetting to children.
3. Be ready for feelings about the shootings. Don’t assume that you know what your child feels. Instead, be available in times to talk (bedtime, in the car) and ask questions. Don’t wait for your child to bring it up. Validate feelings. The emotional upset from this event might bring up feelings from earlier upsetting times in your child’s life. It’s OK. Just be available to deal with it.
4. Keep your home a safe place for having and expressing feelings.
5. For older elementary school children and up emphasize that this is really a rare event. It does not change whether you are safe in your neighborhood.
6. Find ways that your children can express compassion to someone who needs it in your neighborhood. These actions are empowering. Perhaps there is an elderly person who needs a visit. Maybe you could make a contribution to a food pantry.
Here are the helpful links that I received this morning from the Massachusetts Psychological Association Disaster Response Network.
Resources for Mass Shooting Tragedy
APA – Psychology Help Center:
- Managing Your Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting
- Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of school shootings
- “Red Cross Support Colorado Community After Tragic Shooting”;
- Taking Care of Your Emotional Health After a Disaster
NYU Child Study Center:
- School Shootings: Helping Teens Cope– A Guide for Parents. Institute for Trauma and Resilience http://www.aboutourkids.org/
articles/school_shootings_ helping_teens_cope_guide_ parents
- “Five Tips for Talking with Kids about Scary News”
- Disaster Distress Helpline
PTSD Research Quarterly:
- Impact of Mass Shootings on Survivors, Families and Communities