I hugged my sons Jack and Matthew a little tighter this morning and choked back
tears as I saw them off to school. I know parents all across the country are feeling
the way I do today. From all of us at KIWI we send our heartfelt sympathy to the
families of the victims of this heinous tragedy.
It’s hard to know what to say to our kids at a time like this. It’s important to make
them feel safe and secure and make sure your explanations are developmentally
appropriate. Below are some suggestions from the National Association of School
Psychologists. You can get more information by clicking here.
1. Reassure children that they are safe. Validate their feelings. Explain that all
feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs. Let children talk about their feelings,
help put them into perspective, and assist them in expressing these feelings
2. Make time to talk. Let their questions be your guide as to how much information
3. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate. Early elementary school
children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances
that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to protect them.
4. Observe children’s emotional state. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep
patterns can indicate a child’s level of anxiety or discomfort. In most children, these
symptoms will ease with reassurance and time. Seek the help of mental health
professional if you are at all concerned.
5. Limit television viewing of these events. Developmentally inappropriate
information can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in young children.
6. Maintain a normal routine. Keeping to a regular schedule can be reassuring and
promote physical health. Ensure that children get plenty of sleep, regular meals,
and exercise. Encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular
activities but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.
On behalf of everyone at KIWI, our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected
by the tragedy in Newtown, CT. Together we will cope with this tragedy.