In the wake of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, parents and students alike are still dealing with the emotional aftermath. It is difficult, if not impossible, to make any kind of sense out of such a senseless act. Add to that the fact that this is not an isolated incident. Sadly, school shootings are becoming commonplace in the United States.
First Things First
School shootings are a tragedy that shouldn’t exist. Unfortunately, they do. In fact, since the beginning of 2018 alone, there have been over a dozen schools that have been targets of gun violence. Before giving emotional support to your children, it’s important that you address yourself and your emotions. You need to work through your feelings about these tragedies before you can be of substantial help to your kids. Create a support system of other parents, friends, etc., with whom you can process your feelings about the matter.
What Can a Parent Say?
Everyone wants their child to grow up in a safe environment. School is the last place on earth where a child should have fears about getting shot, but that is not the case anymore. How can you provide some comfort for your child in the face of so much tragedy?
One resource provided by the National PTA and American Psychological Association is a webinar for parents. “Helping Your Kids Cope With Trauma” is a valuable tool to help you talk with your kids when disturbing news is in the media. This webinar not only helps you speak with your children, but it also provides information on how to know when the events warrant more help for your child than you can give.
Make Space for Open and Honest Conversation
Even as an adult, you may have had those situations where you wanted to talk about a situation or circumstance but didn’t feel comfortable because you weren’t sure what people would think. How much more is that the case for kids? In some instances, they may not know how to voice their feelings about events. In other cases, they may not want you to be worried about them.
It’s up to you to provide the environment for you to have an open conversation with your kids. Let them know you care, and you want to know how events are affecting them. Give them the green light to talk, and really listen to what they are saying. Let them articulate their feelings and acknowledge them. To say, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be okay,” doesn’t really mean much these days, even though the words may be true.
If you don’t already have family time, now would be a good time to start it. A check-in time without electronics, to see how everyone is doing will be of great help in processing the issues of the day. For many families, this time takes place during the evening meal. A mere “How’s it going at school?” is a simple way to get the conversation started.
Conversations with your kids should be age-appropriate. Be willing to answer questions they may have about what they’ve heard or seen on social media. They may have seen or heard more than you have. Seek out help if you feel you can’t help alleviate your child’s anxiety over these issues.
Tragedy can upend the lives of everyone in the family. At Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A., we provide excellent consultation services and representation for those dealing with personal injury cases. The initial consultation is complimentary, so if you or a loved one has experienced a personal injury, contact us. We serve people living in the southwest region of Florida, and our offices are located in Port Charlotte, Englewood and North Port.