December 2012 Our nation is experiencing shock and overwhelming grief. The senseless and unimaginable acts that took the lives of children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT on December 14, 2012 have scarred our hearts.
Talking with your children is important. Here are some resources that you and your family might find helpful.
Dr. Karen Ruskin, a Clinical Fellow of AAMFT from Boston offers these suggestions for parents to help their children cope with this tragedy.
Answer any and all questions your children have. Nothing is off the table. If you don’t have the answer be honest and tell them you will research the answer and get back to them.
Be verbally attentive, physically affectionate, and nurturing in tone during your talk.
Talk with not at your children.
Discuss and educate them about mental illness.
Reassure the low likelihood of this type of tragedy happening to them while balancing validation of the reality that it did and does happen.
Ask them what they need to feel safe, and what you can do to help them to feel safe.
Balance the worry and pain kids feel with a discussion of what they can do to help those who have been affected, and continue to be supportive of activities they enjoy doing so their entire mind is not on the tragedy 24/7. The balance of living life while mourning is just that- a balance, and yet it is important for children and parents to continue to live knowing that does not disrespect the honor of those who are no longer living among us.
Some kids are chattier than others. Don’t assume because there are no questions your children are fine, nor assume because they are talking about it they are not fine. No assumptions, parents. Rather meet your kids on their terms, on their level, and continue to keep the line of communication open. What your children do not wish to discuss one moment in the day they may wish to at a different moment. Check in on them.
Normalize what they are feeling, re-assure them that their thoughts and feelings are normal.
Display strength and calm, and remember, how you act is a role model for them. How you react affects how they feel and thus act.