School shootings are as traumatizing to parents as they are to children. What should parents do if they don’t feel it is safe to send their child to school?
Parents need to be reassured. In many ways, this is more difficult for parents than for children.
Your best bet is to stay in contact with and be in close communication with the school. Find out what measures they have in place. Ask if they have scheduled any meetings with parents or have a way for parents to connect and support each other.
There is a danger in overprotecting our children. It is important to remember that this is an extremely rare event. People have a tendency to overestimate the risk of rare events while underestimating those that happen every day. It’s part of human nature, but if you notice yourself doing this, it may be time to pull back a little so your child can move forward in the midst of tragedy.
When it comes to parents and children, anxiety happens by osmosis. Anxious parents often have children who are afraid. Just as you would ask of your child, ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” If you cannot effectively deal with the answers on your own, seek professional counseling for your anxiety. It often takes only one or two sessions with a good therapist to begin healing.
Any suggestions on what NOT to do moving forward?
Don’t freak out in front of the children. The less they see of your own anxiety, the better.
When a tragic news story breaks, do not leave the TV on all day, and don’t leave your children alone in front of the TV. When you do have the TV on, watch with them so you can observe their reactions help them to understand. Very young children don’t have enough knowledge of geography to understand how close something is. They may worry unnecessarily that the violence is taking place in their own neighborhood.
Do give your children healthy messages, says Dr. Bloch. “Show them that you are able to go on with life and the things you need to do without this becoming the centerpiece of the family’s concern. Parents must keep themselves together for the sake of the children — even if they’re afraid and worried.”
Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families of the victims, as well as to those who survive.
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