How to discuss the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary with your child
- Remember that small children may have difficulty understanding the difference between other traumatic events and things that may happen to them. Try to avoid exposing them to the news, TV and radio as they discuss this. Kids are prone to jump to conclusions about their own safety when hearing of such trauma. Also, conversations about the larger issues behind this kind of trauma (gun control, mental illness) are best discussed with other adults away from younger children.
- Reassure your children that they are safe and discuss the adults around them that help them feel secure.
- Your demeanor and reaction as a parent greatly determines the reality that your child will construct around trauma. Try to make sure you keep a cool head when you talk to them about scary things. They are looking to you to try and understand how to react.
- Listen to your kids first. Show them that you're hearing them before you talk "at" them. Your attention and concern for what they're saying will feel safe and reassuring. Give them a chance to ask their own questions and validate how they're feeling without telling them how to feel.
This article from PsychCentral does a great job of pointing out some of the more serious symptoms of trauma in children as well as some ways to care for kids who've experienced trauma.