What happened in Connecticut last Friday is too horrific for words, and yet parents have to come up with something to answer children’s questions and fears. Although you may still be struggling with your own strong emotions (shock, sorrow, anger, and fear to name a few of my own) your child needs you in the wake of this tragedy . Here are some recommendations and resources:
1) Be sure to limit your child’s exposure to media coverage of the school shooting (as well as other scary or violent news.)
2) Express your own fears outside your children’s hearing. Remember they “catch” adult emotions and you are their model and their rock. Be sure not to swallow your emotions but share them with adults.
3) Reassure children that they are safe, you will always protect them, and most people are good (even if you are terrified to take them to school). Although we can’t do much for the murdered children, doing something charitable for others can help both you and your little one feel more positive (as well as the recipient!)
4) Be patient with clinging, repeated questions, and more babyish behavior. The more comfort and support you can provide, the more quickly your child will rebound.
Here are some links from The National Association for the Education of Young Children http://naeyc.org/content/coping-school-shooting with many wonderful resources. This printable one-pager is a great concise guide for parents of toddlers & preschoolers: http://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdfs/appendix_tips_for_parents_with_preschool_children.pdf
In memory of those little children and the educators who died trying to protect them:
We shall find peace. We shall hear the angels. We shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds. -Anton Chekhov