School is supposed to be viewed as a safe haven for our kids. We have many kids that feel a stronger sense of safety and consistency at school over their own home. There is supposed to be a sense of safety and structure when it comes to walking into school every day. So when a school shooting occurs it rocks their world in a way of questioning their safety in the hallways they walk every day. It flips their world upside down. There is tremendous weight in knowing how to talk with our kids about school shootings. It’s a topic that we cannot ignore and must step up to the plate in conversation and awareness.
When it comes to school safety and the seemingly common occurrences of school shootings we have to initiate a conversation with our kids. We contend against social media feeds, tweets and their peers. Some of the information is inaccurate. Their phone can easily make them feel like the individual occurrences are more frequent and the casualties greater simply by the constant replays that are incessant. This constant exposure can create surges of anxiety.
What does this chat look like?
It’s bringing it up in conversation. It’s letting them know that it’s a conversation you’re not only willing to have, but know that you need to have. Allow them to talk. How do they feel? What are they thinking? Do they feel safe? It’s nearly impossible for our kids to not be affected in some way shape or form. This is a great opportunity for us to alleviate some of their anxiety while strengthening your relationship.
Tips for making our kids less anxious in an anxiety provoking world…
1) It’s easy for us to forget how much of a sponge our kids are. There are ways we can reduce angst is open discussion, but it’s important to limit how much they’re hearing. Constant footage on your home tv, radio on the ride to school or practice can cause them to feel overwhelmed.. We may have 24 hour access, but our kids don’t need to see repeated footage that will do nothing more than scare and stress them out. When exposure is constant it can feel that danger is imminent, constant and lurking around every corner.
2) Be willing to answer their questions. This can be uncomfortable. If we don’t answer their questions or clarify their misinformation they will either internalize their fears or seek information from friends or social media.
Fighting for our kids mental health…
3) If fear is a factor where hesitation to go to school surfaces remind them their school has an action safety plan in place. It’s not a bad idea to be aware of what their school’s action plan is.
4) Validate their feelings are real. It is in no way minimizing their feelings. Let them know there are millions of kids that go to school every single day, the chance of this occurring is very slim. Here’s where the media makes the world feel much smaller.
5) Eyes open. If they notice something suspicious, someone posts something about hurting others or says something that makes their red flags go off let them know that saying something is the right thing to do. Speak up. It’s not about getting someone into trouble. It’s keeping others safe and getting that person the help that they need. There are kids who are posting threats to others every single day and we have kids scared about saying something. Let them know we have to be aware, alert and assertive.
Keep the conversation and updates going…
6) Pop ins – keep chatting. Don’t let it be one and done. See how they’re feeling? Do they feel less anxious, more anxious? Keep a pulse of their emotional odometer and if you’re concerned and chatting may feel like it’s not enough, this is where outside counseling can be ideal.
Keep chatting….it helps us strengthen our ties with our kids and makes them feel safer. We can’t let them go at it alone. Peace, love and goodness.