Too many times in this country communities have been affected by school shootings. Unfortunately for Coloradoans, our communities have experienced more grief from school shootings in the past 20 years than others. So how do you talk to your kids about it? Dr. Brian Mesinger, our Pediatric Psychologist, has some tips for you:
Conversation Is Key
Kids these days have access to so much information now with social media. It’s unlikely that they haven’t heard about what’s going on so it is better to have conversations with them than try to keep them in the dark. It’s best to ask your kids how they’re feeling about what they’re hearing and reading. That way they know it’s okay to talk about it.
Something to remember is that kids in different age groups are going to react to things differently. The conversation will be different if you’re talking to a 3rd grader versus a high schooler. The way that your child copes with this information can also vary. Some kids are very anxious and even the drills at school may make them scared whereas other kids may not think much about it or be worried.
Talking to an Anxious Child
If your child is on the anxious side, let them know how rare these events are. Help them understand that lock-down and active-shooter drills are practice and reassure your child that their teachers are there to protect them.
Talking to a Less-Anxious Child
For children who are less worried about what they are reading and hearing, it is best to be realistic with them. Talk to them about the rarity of the situation and reassure them that they themselves and the schools are equipped to handle it. Let the conversation flow and talk to them about how there is no right answer on to how to fix the problem our country is currently facing. We, as a society, don’t have the needed research on gun violence as we do for the flu, cancer, driving, etc. so it’s hard to know for sure how to make things better.
Closing the Conversation
You can end the conversation by asking your children how they feel they can contribute to help keep people safe at school. Emphasize that being kind to their classmates is important and that they can reach out to kids that don’t have a lot of friends. If they see a classmate being bullied, they can stand up for them. Remind them that their teacher is always a safe person to talk to about things if they see someone being bullied, bullying others, or if they see something they are scared or worried about because teachers are equipped to handle those kinds of situations.
Always encourage your kids to be positive forces in the world. End the conversation by asking them how they think they can make their world a better place.