NORMAN — Dear readers: In light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut, we wanted to take this opportunity to share some useful information for parents.
If your children want to talk about the situation, be open to that. They obviously have a need to get things off their chests. If they don’t initiate the conversation, you should. You can always use starters such as “what have you heard” or “how are you feeling about this.”
Our first instinct is to keep quiet about such a horrific event in order to protect them. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with them in terms they will understand. You’d much rather they get information and reassurance from you than to have them hear something that may or may not be true — and also very frightening — from friends or TV.
When kids talk to each other, it’s often times scarier and less truthful. Reassuring them they can talk to you will give you the opportunity to give them the truth and calm them down.
Parents should be on the lookout for signs of anxiety such as physical ailments and school avoidance. You may not see any of this until further down the road. Let the school know your child is anxious about this tragedy, walk them into the building or drive them to school instead of them taking the bus or walking. Reassurance and routine are key elements.
Make sure they know to trust their teachers and other employees of the school. There are many drills during the year and many safety measures in place. Make sure they know to treat every drill as the real thing and not to get complacent. If a teacher asks them to go somewhere or do something, they need to do so without hesitation.
Students need to participate in their regular activities and “normal” routine. This just helps to re-establish some stability. Carrying on with daily living shows them that you are resilient, and kids of all ages learn and find comfort from their parents’ resilience.