There are no words to describe what happened on Friday at a Newtown Connecticut Elementary School. Even being an expert in my field, it was difficult to find the words to talk about this on television. As a mother of two children ages 5 and 7, I was in a sheer panic when I heard the news. As a parent I thought, "We should be able to send our children off to school not fearing for their safety." Unfortunately this is no longer the case.
CNN reported that "On December 14, 2012, a gunman killed twenty children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the Sandy Hook village of Newtown, Connecticut, before committing suicide. It was the second-deadliest mass shooting in United States history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
The gunman, identified by authorities as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, first killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their nearby Newtown home. He then drove to the school and shot the students and employees before killing himself. The overall death toll was 28, including the perpetrator."
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This is not about the shooter. This is about the innocent beautiful children that lost their lives. This is about the principal, the school psychologist and the teachers who died. This is about the courageous teachers who escorted the crying and shocked children out of the school to safety. This is about the families that have lost their precious children. That is where our focus needs to be.
It is extremely difficult to make sense out of senseless actions. Parents all over this country are struggling about how to make sense of this tragedy. They do not nor should not know how to describe this shooting to their children. These are not ordinary circumstances.
As I spoke on NBC news on Friday about "How to talk to your Children about the Newtown Shooting," I literally felt sick to my stomach. All I could think about was the parents and the families that lost their loved ones and all I wanted to do was go home and hug my children. I also knew that as an expert in my field, I have a duty to help all parents cope with this tragedy. That is exactly what I will do in the coming weeks.
Here are 6 tips that I can provide you on how to talk to your children about school shootings. I know it isn't much in a time like this but I do hope it helps.
Tips For parents for discuss school shootings!
1. If your child has questions answer them honestly. Keep answering as long as they ask.
2. Limit media exposure-only causes more fear
3. Try to reassure safety. Say "the school and your teachers are doing everything to keep you safe."
4. Try to distract young children with activities if they begin to obsess. Have them draw or play a game. Sometimes they can't talk about their feelings but can draw them.
5. Monitor physical complaints and outburst of anger-all normal reactions to this after hearing such tragic news! If these symptoms are ongoing please contact a counselor
6. Show lots of love, reassure safety and be compassionate!
Watch my video on NBC Here! http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/health/How-to-Talk-to-Your-Kids-About-Conn_-School-Shooting_Philadelphia.html
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My thoughts and prayer are with you all.