The Storm: When you prepared your child for school Friday morning, you were unprepared for the terrible news of another school shooting- this time in an elementary school. Most people find the suffering of children especially hard to manage. It is a vulnerability of every parent. Be selective about the amount of news you absorb. No matter how much information we get about a tragedy it will never make sense. Your child needs your reassurance. If you are saturated by the trauma you will not be able to weather the storm. Some suggestion for managing your own stress:
- Take care of yourself. Remember to eat, keep your routine, and stay connected with a support system that is comforting to you.
- Take breaks from the news and avoid overwhelming yourself with pessimistic or alarmist thinking. Get perspective that this is a rare occurrence.
- Accept and acknowledge your feelings so you can express them appropriately to your child.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Impaired concentration.
- Tearfulness, reluctance about returning to school.
- There will be a "first day back" for all students. Provide accommodations if needed but make the first day Monday. Examples could be allowing extra time in the morning to be supportive or driving your child instead of using the bus or walking into the building for a quick "you will be fine" hug.
- Do not pick up your child early on their first day or text to check on them. This is disruptive and suggests that you are afraid.
- Consider a service project to do in honor of the families effected by the shooting or help your child send a card to the school if he/she expresses an interest.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,‘ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.” ~ Fred Rogers
www.apa.org American Psychological Association Help Center: Helping your child manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting. Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting.
www.ready.gov Listen, Protect, Connect- Model & Teach: The steps of psychological first aid for your students after a disaster, school crisis, or emergency.