As a parent/care-giver, it's natural to want to protect your child from anything that might hurt them. But when it comes to something like school shootings, it can be difficult to know how to best support your kids. School shootings are, unfortunately, occurring with more regularity and it is understandable to your child (and you) to experience anxiety around this.
Although it may not seem possible, there are ways to help your child if you do notice they are anxious about school due to school shooting. Here are some tips:
Talk to Your Child About their Fears and Concerns:
Bringing up school shootings can feel scary in and of itself, however, encouraging open communication around this subject is important for your child. You want them to know that it is okay to be anxious about it, reassure them that you and the school are doing things to keep them safe, and encourage the use of coping tools to assist with their anxiety.
It is okay to be curious about what their fears and concerns are so you know how to best address them. Asking questions is another element to encouraging open and honest communication.
Teach them Coping Skills and Strategies for Dealing with Anxiety and Fear:
Helping your child understand what is anxiety is can be a first step.
"Anxiety and other feelings are our bodies way of telling us that something might be bothering us and maybe we need to talk about it", is an example for younger kiddos to explain anxiety and feelings. Go over some ways of getting through anxiety, like deep breathing, counting to 10, using stress balls, etc., and practice them with your child. This will help them know how and when to use them.
Reassure Them that Their School Will Do Everything they Can to Keep Them Safe
Most school are running active shooter drills in order to have a plan set in place if a school shooting does happen. This can be scary to children (understandably so) but try your best to remind your child that this is to keep them safe and the school is doing the best they can as well.
Remind Them that They are Loved and that You Will Always Be There for Them
Kind words of encouragement, affection and affirmations bring your child a sense of safety, love and connection. Saying, "You are important", "I am grateful for you", "I love you" regularly will continue to keep them in a better mood and knowing how they are truly cared for.
Children want to be loved- plain and simple!
If are looking for support to help your child manage their anxiety, please reach out to us! If you are concerned about your child's level of anxiety around this subject and other struggles, reach out as well. We are here to help!
Stephanie Polizzi is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Peaceful Living MHC.