Monday, January 17, 2011

Talk With Kids About The Shooting in Tucson

The horrific shooting on January 8, 2011 once again rattled us deep within our bones. And sadly, once again, young children are seeing these all too real events; in public forums some children were asking, "Will he be coming to our school to shoot us?"

Talking with our children about this and similar events is a daunting task. The issues are multi-fold, as will be their questions and concerns. Allowing children a voice, reassuring them realistically about safety, and being honest with them about our feelings is just the beginning.

Issues you may want to discuss with your kids about the shooting in Tucson are:
  • Particularly if your child/children are 7 years of age or younger, keep the conversation simple.
  • Acknowledge the facts that they tell you, and reassure them that this won't happen to them.
  • Let kids know that they are safe and that you are safe. If your child/children know that the shooting occurred outside a grocery store, they may exhibit anxiety when you have to go grocery shopping. The more you can ascertain what they know, the better you will be able to address their fears
  • Tell kids that it is safe to go to school. Explain that the principal and others who work at their school are there to protect their safety.
  • Address the issue about the shooter's mental illness only if your child/children are old enough to comprehend the scope of this.
  • Be honest with your children about your feelings; however, be careful not to appear out of control. Be sure your responses are age appropriate.
Here are some questions you may want to ask your kids:
  • Ask your children what they know about the shooting, and how they heard this information.
  • Encourage children to express their feelings. Allow them to talk about the shooting and listen very carefully. This will help you to find out their degree of distress.
  • Answer their questions with simple, honest and accurate answers. Ask specific questions such as "How do you feel? Does it make you feel scared? What worries you the most?"
  • Is there anything else you want to talk about?

Have a joyful day everyone. And remember to live a flourishing life.

Written for KidsTerrain, Inc. Reprinted here with permission.

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