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Resources for talking with children about tragic events

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Call the Communications Office at (518) 695-3255, ext. 1245 for more information on this story.

december 14, 2012

Schuylerville Central School District extends its deepest sympathies to those affected by the school shootings in Connecticut. In light of light of these events, and remembering other similar tragedies in recent years, the district offers as a resource some suggestions on the best ways to talk to our kids about the events we all may see in the news.

It's sometimes overwhelming for adults to witness the stories of war, natural disaster or crime that fill the daily newscast. For kids, exposure to these images and information can be unsettling and traumatic. But often these stories can provide an important lesson, if parents can help interpret the events in an age-appropriate way for their children.

Keep these things in mind as you watch the news together with your kids:

 

square bulletLimit the exposure. The news is a 24-hour business, and major events are shown repeatedly. Seeing the scenes again and again might lead children to believe that traumatic events are an everyday occurrence. All of us, but particularly children, have a limit to the graphic images we can tolerate. Turn off the TV and limit exposure to images and sounds that may upset children.

 

square bulletExplain what happened. If your child asks for an explanation to something they see, use language and words he or she can easily understand. Explain the basics — just what's appropriate for their age level. For young children, what they see on TV they understand to be happening nearby. Help them understand that the news they see is not occurring locally.

 

square bulletKeep calm. Your children will look to you for guidance in the event of upsetting news. If they are upset, acknowledge their fears and reassure them that you will do everything you can to keep them safe.

 

square bulletTake their fears seriously. Don't ignore or laugh off your children's concerns. If their behavior changes after seeing or hearing about a major news event, they may be trying to process the information. Encourage your children to talk about what they are thinking. Hearing their perspective will help you decide how much information you want to share. Then help them understand that their fears and concerns are normal by sharing how you felt when you heard about the event.

 

square bulletKeep your regular schedule. If your child is upset by an event they saw in the news, keep your day-to-day schedule as normal and routine as possible. If bedtime or leaving for school becomes difficult transitions for your child, spend some extra time to help her for a few days.

 

square bulletEncourage play. Play is kids' way to work through lots of things, including fears and worries. If your child re-enacts the news, pretending to be a firefighter or EMT, encourage it. Step in only if playtime gets aggressive toward other children.

 

square bulletLook for the positive. Look for the positive parts of unsettling news. Talk with your children about the people who come to help those in trouble instead of focusing on the negative aspects of the event.

 

square bulletBe part of the solution. The response to any event should spark a conversation about how you and your children can help. Can you donate money or time, or get involved in efforts to find a cure or solution to the problem? Use the news to help your children find ways to connect with the world and help make it better.

 

Here are some other resources for talking to your children—young and older—about school violence and news stories:

 

square bulletNew York University Child Study Center: Talking to your kids about school violence:  http://www.aboutourkids.org/articles/talking_kids_about_school_violence

 

square bulletPBS Parents: Talking to Kids About News:  http://www.pbs.org/parents/talkingwithkids/news/talking.html?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=channel&utm_campaign=PBS#.UMt024mgE6U.twitter

 

square bulletMental Health America: Talking to Kids about School Safety:  http://www.nmha.org/index.cfm?objectid=CA866E4C-1372-4D20-C8D796080B7D2F96