Help Your Child Deal With Situations Like School Shootings

Children are the purest souls in existence, but the world is not all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes, things happen that can be scary, traumatic and even life-scarring for children. One such tragic reality of today is the escalations of school shootings around the world, especially the United States.

School Shootings Have Become A Tragic Part Of Reality

While school shootings were almost unheard of just 10 or 15 years ago, they have become a horrible part of today’s reality where both parents and children wonder if that particular school day will turn out alright. The reason I felt the need to address this problem is that in just one and half months into 2018, we have already had 18 incidences of gun-related violence in US schools with the latest being the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida by 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

So, why is it that you need to help your child deal with the topic of school shootings? This is something you are going to have to deal with because children have access to information and social media without being filtered via their phones, tablets, and friends. This means that even if you are in a place that is not likely to suffer such a tragedy, your children are probably aware of what is happening in the world around them.

Here, we have listed 6 steps you can take to help your children deal with school shootings:

1. Take Care Of Yourself And Stay Prepared With Your Own Support Structure

When it comes to such tragedies, parents often end up falling apart into a mess instead of staying together for their child. Experts recommend establishing a support structure with your partner and friends which can help support you and calmly help process information. You should also take care of yourself by doing an activity that helps calm and relax your nerves.

Remember that your child will be looking up to you for answers, so make sure to be in a state of mind to provide them with the safety and guidance they need.

2. Allow The Children To Start The Topic

A topic like school shootings is not something any parent would find easy to bring up with their children, so it’s best to let the child start the conversation. Let the children start and express their feelings and emotions regarding school shootings, and you can help with adding information that is required. The key is to ensure that they understand enough not to be wondering after and not to overshare and freak them out.

It’s important to let the child start the conversation as this is when they will feel more in control and comfortable talking about it.

Allow The Children To Start The Topic

3. Create A Daily And Weekly Open Space For Talking

Try to create a time of the week where you and your children can speak without any restrictions or consequences. This safe environment will help your children open up without worrying about being judged and evaluated. This can be at the dinner table, before bed or anytime you and your partner provide them.

If you give your children a safe place to express themselves, you will be able to get them to open up and share their thoughts and emotions.

4. Teach The Children To De-Stress And Be Grateful

Talking about topics like school shootings can stress any adult out, let alone a child. So, it’s best that you help your children deal with the stress by teaching them to de-stress. Simple deep breathing exercises before bed can be very helpful. Also get them to list a few things that they are grateful for that happened on that day. This will help assert the fact that this world has many good things happening, even if things like school shootings do occur.

A child should feel secure and positive towards the world. So, allow them to relax and be thankful for their blessings rather than dwelling on the negatives.

Teach Children To De-Stress

5. Help The Children Feel Their Emotions And Feelings

Children are very emotional creatures with many feelings that come in different intensities and levels. With incidences like school shootings, many feelings and emotions are felt. Your job should be to encourage and allow your children to feel their emotions and feelings about such topics. Never let your children bottle up their feelings as these can turn sour and harmful to their mental and emotional health.

Help your children process their feelings and help them find the answers they are looking for.

6. Let The Children Feel Safe Without Promising Something That You Are Unable To Fulfill

The most challenging part of a parent’s job is to help their child feel that they are safe in this world which can turn tragic and deadly in a split second. Remember to help assure them that you are there for them without promising something that you can’t keep. For example, we can’t guarantee our kids that school shootings like this Wednesday’s won’t happen at their school, but we can assure them that we are here for them.

Make sure that you don’t make any promises that you can’t keep while letting your children feel safe and reassured.

The Conclusion

Now that we have taken a look at the steps you should be taking to help your child deal with the topic of school shootings, we suggest you discuss with your partner and other parents first. After this, start a soft dialogue with your children and allow them to express their thoughts and feelings on the subject. Help them with their emotions and emotional needs while making sure that you don’t promise them something you can’t guarantee.

Be There For Your Child

The key here is to have a positive conversation, energy, and environment when you are communicating with the child. As long as they know that you are there for them, they will be able to deal with this topic and others that are as terrible or disturbing.

Know that your child is mentally stronger and more resilient then you can imagine.
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Jessica J
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Written & Reviewed by Jessica J, M. D. Dermatology.