Tragedy has struck our nation once again with the recent Florida school shooting. This occurrence puts fear in us as parents, but more seriously, it instills fear in our children. How do we help them to feel safe in returning to school after something like this? More importantly, how can we make them feel safe in general and more regularly–not just in the wake of tragedy?
Make Sure Your Kids Know the Facts, If They Ask.
It’s important to start basic when explaining traumatic events to your children with the goal of increasing their feelings of safety. In this case, you’d want your child to know that the shooter is in jail or deceased. This way, they can know for a fact that the specific threat is gone. From there, you can judge whether or not they desire to talk more. Then, move forward with a plan to consistently instill courage, confidence, and caution in your child.
Take Action Together
A great way to combat your children’s fear, uncertainty, and unknown is by enrolling them and yourself in a self-defense or crisis response class. These classes may not prevent tragedy from happening, but they can produce feelings of safety, caution, confidence, and healthy coping in stressful situations. It may also put your mind at ease, as a parent, knowing what your child knows. Also, taking a class together strengthens the child-parent bond, giving them a positive and familiar association with the acts of self-defense and crisis response.
Another form of action is to encourage them to participate in events such as rallies and demonstrations that perhaps survivors of previous tragedies are initiating. Encourage everything except backing out of the world and retreating in fear.
After trauma and in preparation for life’s struggles in general, be sure to practice consistent positivity with your children. That could mean reading optimistic, fulfilling and life-enriching stories found in the news, or showing them funny, playful videos online that will lighten their hearts and yours. Having a constant reminder that good things also happen in the world is healthy and may avert your child’s attention toward things that inspire them to encourage others and spread that optimism around. Designate a day for this practice; call it something like “Warmth Wednesday.”
Have Lunch At School
When you’re young, seeing your parents in the middle of the day is a rarity, but when it happens, it’s kind of fun. A child goes hours without seeing someone from home, and that can be disheartening (though necessary). After a dreadful incident takes place, take time in the middle of the day to visit your child at school; bring them lunch and ask how their day is going. Show them that it’s possible for their parent to come be with and support them. Not only is it comforting for your children, but it’s comforting for you too.
Teach Your Child About People
Show your child not only how to be observant of all the different personalities in the world, but also how to be considerate of them. When you help your children understand various personalities, you expand their understanding of the world, likely increasing their compassion and empathy. Children who have increased empathy and compassion may be more likely to notice if someone is being treated poorly or aren’t receiving the kindness and love they need. By helping them understand various versions of human behavior, you are also equipping them with the ability to better notice if something isn’t quite right with a classmate. Additionally, they can know how to better communicate with others the way they need it the most.
Take Action, Give Compassion
Bad things are unfortunately going to happen in the world. How we respond to it–through action and compassion–will help us through it. Start teaching your children young how to love, accept love, and be courageous. That will create a brighter future for us all.