Horrified and upset, we stay glued to the news, grieving with the families and worrying about the safety of our own children. In the process we forget that they may be listening and watching, too.
We’re not bad people, we’re just concerned, but it’s important for us to remember that the news and young children don’t mix. The information and images are too frightening, too hard for them to process.
So let’s turn off our televisions and radios, our computers and cell phones, and try to put ourselves back together. Then we can focus on the children in our lives who depend on us to make them feel safe.
They have probably heard about this shooting or are at least aware that something terrible has happened. Let them ask questions and express their thoughts and fears. If we don’t allow them to do this, they get the message that we’re too scared to deal with the situation and they become even more frightened.
To find out what they know, ask open-ended questions and base your response on what they say. Let them know that it’s natural to be afraid and you’ll do everything you can to keep them safe.
Above all, spend time with them, listening, talking, reading, cuddling, and telling them that you love them.
For a helpful post on more we can do, see “Talking with Children about the Connecticut School Shooting” by Eileen Kennedy-Moore.