The Connecticut school shooting is one of the most horrible tragedies in American history.
It is very important to be very careful with how you approach your children in discussing
this tragedy in order to avoid setting off serious depressions and other emotional problems. The advice of professionals you feel you can trust in dealing with your kids at this difficult time may be helpful. ABC News has reported this evening on Dec. 14, 2012,Connecticut School Shooting: 4 Tips to Help Kids Cope.
Parents across the country trying to come to grips with the wide scope of the tragedy in Connecticut are wondering how to talk to their kids about it. Alan Kazdin, who is a professor of child psychology at Yale University, has offered tips for parents to frame that discussion and help their kids cope. Kazdin cautions that parents can easily project their own fears onto their kids. Your kids will most likely hear about this brutal incident, so your child may have questions. Parents are advised to answer at the level of the question, but not to dwell on the tragic nature of it. However, parents should not be evasive and they should not lie about the facts.
Many kids suffered from overexposure to the media after 9/11. Child psychologists have called this “secondary terrorism.” Many parents take the stance that our kids need to be tough and “they might as well know the truth.” However, psychologists say they need to be “coddled, cushioned and comforted” now so they can become emotionally stronger later. Parents are also advised to reassure their kids that this is a rare event and that they should not be afraid to go to school now. Let your kids know a lot of people are working hard to keep them safe and to try to keep this type of thing from happening again. It is advisable to repeatedly reassure your kids without dismissing their fears and to also give them a hug. Touch can make a big difference.
Sue Shellenbarger and Sumathi Reddy have also reported on advice to help kids cope with this tragedy in an article for The Wall Street Journal, How to Talk to Children About the Shootings: Calm Tone, Basic Facts. Psychologists and therapists have offered some advice to help your kids deal with this tragedy. Daniel Hilliker, a child and adolescent psychologist at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center in Rochester, Minn., has said, “It’s OK to give them some basic facts, but also talk to them about the fact that you may not know why something like this happened.” It may also be a good idea to turn off TV and radio news to protect children from overexposure to frightening images and stories about this bloody incident. And parents should try to remain calm and present a strong, reassuring front for their kids.