How to Talk to Your Kids About the Tragedy in Sandy Hook
By: Louise Weadock, founder of WeeZee World of Yes I Can
The devastating tragedy involving young children and their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School has left many of us distraught and in tears. The pain in this country is almost palpable, and those that are most sensitive -- our children -- may react. Many of the parents we know and interact with daily at WeeZee World of Yes I Can! have asked us how to talk to and sooth their children during this difficult time.
At such a sad and stressful time, it's important to make sure that you do the following to help your child stay balanced and comforted:
Maintain Calm and Quiet at Home
Turn the television off. Kids should not be exposed to the television where they will surely see the replay of images of victims or hear the tragic stories being told over and over again. We lead the tone in our homes. Don't let kids watch or react to the media.
When Kids Ask Questions…
Provide limited answers. When your child asks you about the event, try to explain in a very calm tone that for some inexplicable reason -- with a one in a gazillionth chance -- this man lost control. Then, explain that school is still a very safe place that has many adults that you trust who are specially-trained to keep children safe.
Reverse the Questioning
When your child asks questions about the tragedy, turn the conversation around and ask: "What do you think?" and let your child
answer. Conversations like this may keep coming up so just let your child keeping talking. If he asks, "Why are there guns on the streets
that people can use to shoot people?" -- you can respond with, "That's a good question, how can we change that?" Empower your child so that he or she feels a sense of control over their world and themselves.
Reassure and Reassure
Your child needs to be reassured that whatever it takes, you as his parents will keep his life safe. Explain and discuss all of the safety procedures at their school and in your community. Reassure your child that he or she is safe over and over again.
Serenity at Home
Keep the mood at home upbeat, positive and calm. Make your child's favorite foods, and play soothing music so that he or she knows that they are loved and in a safe home. Let him process this horrible information in the loving arms of a parent and in a quiet, peaceful environment.
Decrease stress by engaging in activities that are fun and integrate all of the senses. The last thing you want is for your child to be sedentary or inactive at this particular time. Try creating a special holiday art project together using finger paint; bake and decorate colorful cupcakes that smell and taste delicious; even dance or do yoga together. The more you use your senses in activities together, the better your children will feel!
For more ideas on activities that can engage your child at home, as well as effective communication, calming and soothing tips, contact Louise Weadock, WeeZee World of Yes I Can, 914-752-2100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.