Tragedy In Connecticut: How To Talk To Your Kids

By

sad daughter leaning on mother's shoulder
Reverend Christopher Smith offers advice about what to tell your children.

This morning, news came out about another tragic, mass shooting — this time in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut

On one level, this is just one more tragedy in a series of tragedies that have occurred in our country. On another level, the victims here were considerably younger. Additionally, this particular Connecticut community was also severely affected by Superstorm Sandy. However, the impact of a tragedy this large ripples across the country and beyond.

As a parent, whether you live near the incident or far away, you naturally think about your own child(ren). What will you say to them? What will you do? Here are seven suggestions:

1. Pay attention. The first thing to realize is that children, like adults, will become anxious about this event. The difference is that their anxiety may be expressed differently. So, while it's natural to want them to feel a sense of peace, the first thing for you to do is to not say anything, but simply pay attention to your children and watch for changes in their behavior. Being anxious in the short term is a normal reaction. However, if it becomes prolonged, consider speaking to their pediatrician. If their reaction is more severe, seek the help of a mental health professional.

2. Limit exposure. The second thing to consider is the effect of the constant replaying of the incident. For two to three hours, all I heard on the radio on my drive home today was a retelling of the story with the occasional addition of new details. For some children, this constant retelling of the story can feel like a story that is still going on. There are also details of an event like this that are fuzzy for a while. This is the nature of limited knowledge when faced with a disaster. For example, while the authorities were saying that the public was safe, they were also talking about looking for a second person of interest. These messages can add to a child's feeling of not being safe. So, limit your own and your child’s exposure to the replaying of the incident on the news.

3. Promise safety. The third thing is to assure your children of their safety. Reassure your child(ren) that they are safe and that while there was a tragedy, such a tragedy is a very rare event. Help them to normalize their own situation as you help them try to lead as normal of a routine as possible. Keep reading.

More love advice from YourTango:

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith

Marriage and Family Therapist

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LCAC, LMHC, LMFT has served as a national leader around mental health issues both within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in professional counseling organizations.  He works directly with individuals, couples, families and supervisees as the Clinical Director of Seeking Shalom in New York City.  He also brings his insight to help a wider audience through writing, speaking and consultations.

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: LAC, LMFT, LMHC, MDiv
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Forgiveness, Spiritual
Other Articles/News by The Rev. Christopher L. Smith:

The Real Story of Teen Rapes – More Than Just Football Players

By

As we approach Father's Day and whatever that means for us, we think about how good fathers desire to protect their children, but also are challenged in trying to give them space. In desiring health and wholeness for our children, we want them to be happy, to flourish in what they desire to do, to be protected from suicide, and to be protected from being ... Read more

When Opposites Attract: The Formula To A Satisfying Relationship

By

Normally, relationship experts talk about how similarities help to make a relationship satisfying. However, there are those happy couples that you know where you ask yourself how they have stayed together because they are so different from each other. When I was in my teenage years, I flew across the Atlantic fairly regularly; first when my family lived ... Read more

How Do I Protect My Daughter?

By

Parents understand that it can be very different to raise a daughter than it is to raise a son. There are gender differences and many parents report feeling connected to their children differently based up on their gender. This is something that is normal as they look at their relationship with their children and as they consider how to express their love in ... Read more

See More

PARTNER POSTS
Latest Expert Videos
Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.

Most Popular