Sunday, December 16, 2012

How to talk to your kids about the school shootings

Two days later and there is still no word from NYC Department of Education about the school shootings in nearby Connecticut.  The below is from Noah Gotbaum, parent leader, passing on some links on how to help our kids (and ourselves) deal with this tragic event.
The first link from the National Association of School Psychologists is particularly good. These were passed on to me by a friend whose children attend a private school here in NYC. Unfortunately, there’s been no info or guidance as yet from our New York City public school system leadership.  More worrying perhaps, the DOE has no system to disseminate such info in real time to the city's 1.3 million parents and caregivers.  A serious issue for another day... 
  • Tell the children that we shall all do everything we can to keep them safe.
  • Listen to their questions and answer them clearly and simply, if we can.  They may return to us later and repeat their questions, many of which may be factual, and they may have different feelings and reactions from ours.  We should try not to impose our own horror and fear on them.
  • Limit their exposure to television and other forms of news that will go over the shootings again and again.
  • Consult guidelines (see links below) from such organizations as the National Association of School Psychologists and the Child Mind Institute.  They have sound advice for talking to children about such matters and observing their behavior.
  • Let the school know if you have concerns about a child's reaction to the shootings.  Do not hesitate to consult a psychologist or counselor, especially if unusual behavior persists.
Here are some other links:

Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers  from the National Association of School Psychologists
Caring for Kids After a School Shooting  from the Child Mind Institute
Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting from the American Psychological Association
Fact sheets for Children:  on Firearms, Grief and Violence from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)

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