Tips for what parents can do to help children cope with a national tragedy
Friday, December 14th, 2012

By now you may have heard about the tragic school shooting that occurred today at an elementary school in Connecticut. No doubt there will be extensive coverage of this on the news and much discussion about it in our communities in the coming days.

Staff want to assure you that safety of our students is our top priority and that our school has a comprehensive crisis plan in place to help avoid tragedies such as this. The plan is reviewed and updated annually.

Here are some tips from the National Association of School Psychologists (http://bit.ly/96E1rH) for parents/guardians to help their children cope with news such as this.

  1. Focus on your children over the week following the tragedy. Tell them you love them and everything will be okay. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental level.
  2. Make time to talk with your children. Remember if you do not talk to your children about this incident someone else will. Take some time and determine what you wish to say.
  3. Stay close to your children. Your physical presence will reassure them and give you the opportunity to monitor their reaction. Many children will want actual physical contact. Give plenty of hugs. Let them sit close to you, and make sure to take extra time at bedtime to cuddle and to reassure them that they are loved and safe.
  4. Limit your child's television viewing of these events. If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off. Don't sit mesmerized re-watching the same events over and over again.
  5. Maintain a "normal" routine. To the extent possible stick to your family's normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but don't be inflexible. Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night
  6. Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed. These activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of normalcy. Spend more time tucking them in. Let them sleep with a light on if they ask for it.
  7. Safeguard your children's physical health. Stress can take a physical toll on children as well as adults. Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise, and nutrition
  8. Consider praying or thinking hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families. It may be a good time to take your children to your place of worship, write a poem, or draw a picture to help your child express their feelings and feel that they are somehow supporting the victims and their families.
  9. Find out what resources your school has in place to help children cope. Most schools are likely to be open and often are a good place for children to regain a sense of normalcy. Being with their friends and teachers can help. Schools should also have a plan for making counseling available to children and adults who need it.

If you have concerns about your child's reaction to this news, please contact your school. Each school has staff who will be able to provide help for concerns such as this.