The Parkland School Shooting in Florida on February 14th 2018 has rocked our nation.
You may think that your child is too young or doesn’t have the awareness of the school shootings on the news.
That’s not true.
Chances are, your child is aware of the Parkland shooting and has her own thoughts and feelings about it.
As a therapist, I see children roughly between the ages of 5-17, all with different levels of comprehension. A common thread among all of them is that they all have had some awareness (from parents, peers, or media) of the larger world.
I’ve treated children afraid of going to the mall out of fear of being shot. Other children I’ve seen will build weapons out of Legos to defend themselves against the threat of a shooter, or they develop separation anxiety and cry for an hour after their parent has dropped them off from school.
Children are aware. Chances are your child is too.
The problem is not that your child is aware of what’s happening in the world. The problem is if you mishandle your child’s feelings about these events. Shutting down feelings and dismissing your child’s words or play means that you miss out on an opportunity to assist your child in understanding the world around her.
School shootings have the ability to shake your child’s sense of security, provoke anxiety, and inhibit learning.
Listening your child’s words, helping her to process the meaning behind the events, and reassuring safety, are your major parenting tasks after school shootings are in the media.
I know it’s tough to know what to say. Here are a few resources to help you with this task:
Excellent download with tips on how to talk to your child about stories that are in the news.
A children’s book for school age children that helps children to process through difficult times, and what they can do to feel better in an age of uncertainty.
For children grieving the loss of a loved one.
A wonderful book for preschool age children about feelings. A great resource to help your young child to express him or herself.
Please comment below: How has your child responded to the school shooting? What do you do to help him or her process it?
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice that is designed to focus on the whole family. She currently serves families in Southern California.