A few weeks ago, another school in our country experienced yet another senseless shooting. Unfortunately violence, specifically gun violence, has become all too common and while it is terribly upsetting for adults, it can be especially difficult and overwhelming for children. It’s heartbreaking that in today’s world, kids are more worried about school shootings than homework, are practicing active shooter drills instead of fire drills and are forced to have conversations with educators and their parents about situations that most are far too young to comprehend. However, as unfair as the drills and uncomfortable conversations are, they are very necessary. Teachers, administrators and parents, if you’re struggling on how to speak with your child about the violence happening in our world today or are having trouble finding the right words to even begin, Rice Psychology Group may be able to help.
Speaking with Your Child
It can be terrifying to think about having to speak with kids about shootings and violence, specifically school shootings. And to some adults avoiding the conversation all together may seem like a better alternative. However, avoiding scary topics such as this, can actually make them even scarier. So how do you even begin? We suggest using some of the following tips to speak with your kids or students about violence at school:
- Ask questions. Learn what information they may already know or think they know about shootings and violence in school and ask them what questions they may have.
- Provide reassurance. While you can’t promise them another shooting will never happen again, you can remind them that their school staff, teachers and you are doing everything possible to keep them safe and that they practice drills for a reason.
- Limit details. Kids don’t need to know every grizzly detail of the latest news story. Kids imaginations can run wild and can increase their anxiety when you provide unnecessary details and use language they may not be able to comprehend.
- Communicate important information. Regardless of their age, it’s important to remind them that if they see something they believe is off, think another student or friend could be struggling or read something scary and potentially harmful online: they should let an adult know.
- It’s OK to be scared. Remind them everyone, including adults, feel afraid when they think they’re in danger and this reaction is completely normal.
- Keep the news off so kids aren’t hearing and seeing unnecessary information, often repeatedly, about violent incidents.
Tips from NASP
Along with the tips we have listed above, we want to let all educators and parents know that the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), is an extremely helpful resource that can be used to help you speak with your child about violence, school safety and crisis. To learn more and to access these resources, click here.
If the information provided here doesn’t help and you are still feeling overwhelmed about how to speak with your kids, please reach out to one of our licensed psychologists in Tampa.
We’re All In This Together
Rice Psychology Group understands that everyday there seems to be another heavy topic you have to speak with your children about and this can be extremely overwhelming for both parent and child. If you or your child are struggling, our team in Tampa is here to help your family talk through your concerns, in a safe environment. Schedule your free, 10-minute consultation with us today.