After having had a child care in OK during the Ok. City bombing let me offer some tips we learned.
1. Parents please do not hug your child fiercely every time you see them. They may not fully comprehend all that has happened however, they will pick up on your fretfulness.
2. Turn off the TV. I can’t say this loud enough TURN OFF THE TV. Younger children can’t tell the difference in reality and non reality. To them every time they see something on the shooting they will think another school has been attacked and will wonder if their school is next.
3. Do not talk to other adults about this shooting in front of your children. Children don’t understand speculation.
5. Try to keep yourself calm. Kids WILL pick up on your anxieties. Promise you they will.
6. At a calm moment sit down with your children and ask them what they know about the school shooting. Ask them what they want to know. Explain things in as calm a voice as you can.
17. Don’t lie to your children. When they ask you why this happened, tell them you don’t know. If they ask why God would allow this to happen, tell them God did not want this to happen and He wants them to be safe. Sometimes bad people do bad things.
8. Ask your children to pray with you for the families of the children and the teachers that were hurt or died (depending on the age of your child). Continue to pray for the children and their families at Sandy Hook Elementary School for the next few days.
9. Pull your children up on your lap and tell your children they are safe right now. You can only guarantee your child’s safety in the moment and for now that is what they need.
10. If I had elementary age children right now I’d talk to them about listening to their teachers when an emergency happens. Some schools might start practicing what to do in a shooting situation. I know in our child we practiced escape routes, etc. We talked a lot about what would happen if a bomber came to our program. We asked the kids to take some responsibility in helping us be on the look out. Kids will take their responsibility seriously. If presented wisely kids will be very mature about it all. We talked about keeping each other safe.
We also talked about what to do if a shooter should appear. We actually had some situations we had to prepare in advance for in regards to keeping all kids safe. We explained to the kids that we had safety measures in place.
Don’t be surprised if your child starts playing through various situations. Even 9, 10 and 11 year old kids will pull out the army men and other characters and play through their stress and fears. Stay on the sidelines, listen and observe. Just let them play through without interruptions. Bath time is another time kids will play through frustrations.
At any rate this has been my experience. I wish all of you the best in keeping your kids calm and safe. And remember your child might not even talk about it right now but they might bring it up months later. Be ready and prepared when it does come up.
Linda Ranson Jacobs
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com