As a mother of a kindergartener and second grade student in elementary school, the tragic event at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday really hit close to home. Although I’m a mental health professional, I, like the rest of the world, have been grieving and wondering why in the world something so tragic like this happened. Unfortunately, it’s all too common these days to hear that a tragic, senseless shooting has occurred somewhere.
As is the case for many people, my faith has been, and always is, an incredible source of comfort, strength, and peace for me in difficult times. There are some great mental health resources, though, that I wanted to pass along, particularly around how to talk to children about events like these. My kids were not aware of the shootings in Connecticut when I picked them up from school on Friday, and my husband and I decided we would wait until maybe some time over the weekend when the time was right to talk with them about it. The topic came out of the blue and took me a bit by surprise when on Sunday afternoon, we pulled up in front of the post office to mail some holiday cards and my seven-year-old son asked why the flag outside of the building was flying at half-staff. My husband and I briefly explained what happened, giving only the most basic of details. My son had a couple of questions about it, and we answered them. It’s obviously very difficult figuring out how to talk with your children about tragic events like the one that occurred in Newtown, but the resources below offer some helpful advice and suggestions about how to go about it.
- Tips for Talking With and Helping Children and Youth Cope After a Disaster or Traumatic Event: A GUIDE FOR PARENTS, CAREGIVERS, AND TEACHERS
- Disaster Distress Helpline from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration
- Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting
- Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting
- Five Questions on the Tucson, Ariz., Shootings for Psychologist Joel Dvoskin, PhD **please see # 3 question and response http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2011/01/tucson-shootings.aspx
- Helpful Hints for School Emergency Management: Psychological First Aid (PFA) for Students and Teachers: Listen, Protect, Connect – Model & Teach http://rems.ed.gov/docs/HH_Vol3Issue3.pdf
- Psychological First Aid for Teacher and Students http://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/PFA_SchoolCrisis.pdf
- After a Loved One Dies – how children grieve and how parents and other adults can support them http://www.newyorklife.com/newyorklife.com/General/FileLink/Static%20Files/New%20York%20Life%20Foundation%20Bereavement%20Guide%20-%20After%20a%20Loved%20One%20Dies%20.pdf
- School Crisis Guide: Help and Healing in a Time of Crisis