How to process the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut? The entire nation, and a good-sized hunk of the globe, are slowly, collectively processing the self-inflicted terror that exists in America today.
Sometimes people assume that if a woman doesn’t have children, she doesn’t like them and restricts them from her life. Another example of why assumptions are almost always not to be trusted.
If you’re actively involved with nieces, nephews, godchildren, stepchildren, neighbors’ kids and Other People’s Children (OPC), especially little ones, consider preparing just in case you’re surprised with the subject face-to-face.
Kids know what they’re doing. If they’ve heard about kids like them who are dead, or who saw a man shoot a teacher, they may have talked with their parents, but there’s still curiousity about how you’ll answer the same questions. And, if you have one conversation about this tragedy, chances are there will be more.
Of course, I’m no expert, but here’s where the magic of the Net rises up again. Drop “talking to kids Connecticut” in your favorite search engine and the nation’s professionals are at your bidding. All I know is to turn off the news, which can mean turning off the TV and terrestial radio altogether. DVDs, streaming video and music on mp3 players and CDs are all safe bets.
The very first article I clicked on raised a totally new sad pang in my heart: Kids who’ve already gone through a traumatic experience, such as hurricane Sandy, or the illness or loss of a loved one, are particularly vulnerable to mental distress. Give them extra hugs and watch them closely.
From Dr. Louis Kraus, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago advises to tell children.”What is most important is that you’re safe and you’re going to be safe.”
Dr. David Fassler, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Burlington, VT: “Acknowledge and validate the child’s thoughts, feelings and reactions. Let them know that you think their questions and concerns are important and appropriate.”
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.“
Really good advice for tots and teens and big ol’ grown-ups.
If you do find yourself explaining the unexplainable to a child, pour 2 glasses of your favorite beverage and have a debriefing session with her/his Mom. Be sure to give her a hug, too.
Connecticut Photo Credit: Adrees Latif/Reuters