Resources for Talking with Your Kids about the Unthinkable
***Our hearts go out to the families of the victims and all those impacted by the shooting in Uvalde, TX.
We long for a world where events like these are not a reality. But each tragedy reminds us that our/our children’s fears about safety and security are sometimes well-founded rather than being the result of distorted thinking.
As you respond to your own emotions and think about ways to support those you love, we encourage you to accept and make space for whatever emotions you or your loved ones may be experiencing.
Pray for those impacted by this most recent violence. Take time to engage in an activity that involves soothing sensory input while being intentional to be present in the moment. Rather than being caught up in news reports or social media posts, honor the reality of the tragedy while also offering care and comfort for yourself and your loved ones.***
The school year is coming to a close, families have begun to plan for summer vacation, a vacation their children won’t forget. This should be a joyous time, a time to re-connect with families, a slower schedule for kiddos. Summer is great: swimming, summer sports, learning how to learn a bike, climbing a mountain, maybe a first airplane ride. The list goes on and on.
But right now, families are mourning. Families are questioning the safety of schools. Parents and caregivers are in a state of shock because they didn’t know when they dropped their children off at school on Tuesday that they wouldn’t get to hear what they did. The events on Tuesday stopped the world once again.
Questions arise and the pressure is on caregivers to have an answer for their children.
Talking to your child about difficult news
We work with children each day and they have many quesitons. they want to understand their world. As caregivers, we also must attempt to understand our world as we are helping our children understand theirs.
What does this mean? How can we respond to our kiddos?
When our child says “I’m scared to go to school” instead of saying “you’ll be fine, you’re safe here”. That’s not enough, they may have seen this shooting on the news. They will struggle to hear you.
Try saying in a calm and soothing voice, “I know you are scared, and I’m scared too, let’s talk through what you can expect at school today”, explore their day together. Help them identify someone they can go to when they become overwhelmed with fear at school.
We could write a book on the many questions that are arising, but we will stop with this one suggestion:
When you chid struggles to understand something, try to take on their perspective. Place yourself in their “shoes” and try to understand what it’s like to be 7 years old.
We suggest starting with “I see that you are afraid (or another emotion) and it’s okay to be afraid, here is something we can do together, we can count to 10, take a deep breath and talk about all the things that make us feel safe.” It’s important to let our children know that we accept their big emotions and once a child is calm we can use the time to explore more about the big emotions. Until a child has been regulated (calmed down) trying to reason with them will not work, it will likely intensify the big emotions.
We encourage you today to take some time to help your child explore his or her emotions and validate their feelings. Take time to play a game with your child and laugh together.
Additional Resources for How to Talk with Your Kids:
- Talking to Kids about School and Community Shootings in the News
- How to Talk to Kids about the Texas School Shooting
- Talking to Children about the Shooting
- Talking with Children about Difficult Things in the News
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