How To Talk To You Children After A School Shooting

How To Talk To You Children After A School Shooting

If you have school-age children, there’s a chance that they have already talked with classmates about the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. How do you mold the conversation or inform your children about what happened? Every parent will handle the conversation differently, as the pain of the grieving families is every parent’s worst nightmare. It triggers fear 

in both the children and parents. Could it happen at the school your children attend? This is why having an open dialogue about the situation is necessary. 

In case you haven’t seen the news, nineteen children and two adults were killed during the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The Uvalde shooting came just 10 days after a shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, where 10 people died. These horrific events brought trauma and anxiety to many people around the country. Unfortunately, these incidents are not the only two that have happened this year. According to Education Week, there have been 27 school shootings with injuries or deaths in 2022. On top of that, the United States surpassed 200 mass shootings this year, counting 212 shootings since January 1st, 2022. 

How Do You Talk With Kids About What Happened?

The key to talking with kids about this type of situation is communicating relational safety. This can only happen if you listen to their fears and co-regulate their responses to what you say. But first, parents will have to process their own feelings and work through emotions related to the tragic event. If your kids come to you with questions about the event, though, ask them about things that they heard about. Tell them to tell you what they know and do your best to provide simple facts that are age appropriate. 

If you have teens or tweens, it’s possible that they received information via TikTok, Snapchat, or Instagram. Not all of the information on these platforms accurately depict the situation, and this can be confusing, conflicting, and incomplete, in regards to news coverage. When you communicate with teens, stick to facts and answer the questions they ask. If you don’t have the answer to one of their questions, it’s perfectly acceptable to tell them that you don’t know the answer. No matter the age of the children, though, take a break from social media and the news to decompress. Nobody benefits from that much exposure to information about tragedy. 

Talk To Your Children

It can be scary to discuss school shootings with your children. You don’t want to scare your children, even though many children are aware of school shootings nowadays. The attention that the media brings to these events makes them ever-present, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Discussing the topic in a relaxed way can help alleviate anxiety and make your children feel more at ease. 

If you aren’t sure how to start the conversation, ask your children if they have any questions about the event. Because children, especially young children, have a wild imagination, you should not use fuzzy language or euphemisms. Be clear with what you are saying without stepping over the line into the inappropriate realm. For example, truthful answers are direct and clear, but use discretion when necessary. 

For The Kids Who Were Present Or Heard On The News

19 children being gunned down is an unacceptable situation, and there are no rules about how to grieve. It may take some time to process the situation. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the symptoms you experience, as symptoms of trauma can often mimic those of depression. Anxiety, sleep disturbances, changes in eating habits, or mood swings are all common things to experience after a traumatic event. If your children start experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to them about what’s going on. They may occur immediately after the event or several weeks later. Children can experience gains and loss as they work through a tragic event. You may even want to seek help from a licensed child psychologist to better handle the situation.

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