School Shootings: What Now? 

Peace at Home April 3, 2023 | Ruth Freeman

In the wake of yet another horrific school shooting, you are likely having a variety of emotions. Stress, fear, confusion—and more. We live in an uncertain time, and these acts of violence on our communities can be extremely hard to process, for us and for our children. Whether you’re feeling increased stress, fear over sending your child to school, anger at the political climate, or anything else, please know that you’re not alone. 

It’s normal to feel like speaking to your children about these atrocious acts is difficult and scary. We understand. Below, you will find some guidelines that you may want to consider using to spark a conversation with your child. Doing so will help you acknowledge your feelings and theirs, and will help you both to process these events together. 

  • Ask what your child has already heard about this event and from whom they heard it.
  • For school-age and older kids, ask what their friends are saying about this event. Sometimes it is easier to talk about the feelings of others to begin the conversation. Reflect your child’s emotions and thoughts as they appear to you and listen very, very careful to how they respond.  “Sounds like you’re feeling….” “Seems like you’re feeling…” If you get the feelings wrong, kids will correct you. Avoid trying to change their emotions. Just make it clear you understand. Feeling seen is helpful in strengthening your connection with your child, which they very much need in these circumstances. It is also soothing. Avoid trying to change their emotions.
  • Tell the truth as you understand it, in simple terms that match your child’s stage of development. If they ask questions for which you don’t have answers, do some research together. You don’t have to have all the answers.
  • Be candid about your own thoughts and emotions, without overwhelming your child, again keeping their stage of development in mind.
  • Be clear that all emotions are ok, that fear can shut down the thinking part of the brain and increase activity in the emotional part of the brain. Talk about fight, flight or freeze in the brain and ways to calm that state. If you don’t know any ways, get some support to learn about brain calming strategies and discuss these with your child. Remember that what works for you may be different than what works for your child
  • Consider talking with your local librarians or educators about what you can read with your child to learn about mental health issues, racism when that is involved in violent events and actions that will help.
  • And finally, get support. We all know in our hearts that it really does take a village and most of us don’t live in those anymore.

These conversations are difficult, but they are also extremely beneficial for managing stress and mental health, especially in the wake of such devastating events. The world today can be a scary place for both you and your children. We at Peace At Home are here to help in any way we can.

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