To the 372 Community:
We are hoping you are all safe. Please see some resources that were shared with us about talking to your children about today’s tragic event. Please see below.
Take your cues from your child
Invite your child to tell you how they feel about going back to school. Don’t ask leading questions — “Are you worried about going back to school?” — but do give them an opportunity to express what’s on their mind. Assuming you’ve discussed the shooting, you might ask if they expect to discuss it at school, or whether they expect any school activities relating to it.
Give them ample opportunity to ask questions
It’s reassuring to children, and helps diminish frightening fantasies, to express what they’re worried about. If your child is thinking that their classroom may no longer be — or feel — safe, it’s good to listen to those fears.
Acknowledge their feelings, but remain calm
You can let your child know that you can understand why they might be uneasy. And then you can have a factual conversation about how rare school shootings are (and Subway Shootings). You can also assure them that when they happen, they are investigated carefully, to identify causes and help prevent it from happening again. It’s confidence-building for kids to know that we learn from negative experiences.
Emphasize school safety
Remind your child that their school is a very safe place, filled with teachers and other adults who love children and have dedicated their lives to helping them. Remind them of the drills and policies already in place to keep students safe.
Give extra reassurance
Don’t be surprised if your child is unusually clingy or needy, and do be prepared to slow your morning routines and be physically affectionate and comforting.
Listen when they’re not talking
Be on the lookout for nonverbal cues indicating anxiety. The 8-year-old who hasn’t asked you about the event but who has seen the images, and whose sleep and eating habits have changed after the tragedy, may need to have a conversation — even if they aren’t asking in words.
Know who else can help
Teachers and school counselors will be ready to help children with any concerns they might have while they are in school. Encourage your child to talk to them if they are feeling overwhelmed on the first day back or later in the week. Let them know that it’s fine to bring the subject up again to you or anyone else if they have questions or feelings they want to share later.
Finally, if you think that one of your children has been seriously impacted, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Child Mind Institute. You can contact us at (212) 308-3118.