21 people, including 19 children, were killed and injured in an attack at Uvalde Elementary School, Texas on Tuesday.
The nation is still reeling from the aftermath of the second-deadliest school shooting in American American history. Teachers and parents are now faced with another daunting task: explaining to their children the incident.
“[It’s] just heartbreaking,”Becky Chuen is the parent of a South Pasadena student in first grade. “It brought me to tears. I can’t believe it’s happening again.”
It is heartbreaking, but it’s not easy to talk about this tragedy.
“I haven’t had any conversations with my first grader, only because he’s still a little too young to understand what’s going on,” Chuen said.
It is a tragedy of such magnitude that no one can know the best way to deal with it. What is appropriate? These are some suggestions from experts that might be helpful for you and your child.
Parents struggle with explaining the tragedy in Texas to their children and reassuring them that they are safe at school. Toni Guinyard reports from Today in LA on Wednesday May 25, 2022.
Aim to personalize the message based on age
Experts agree it doesn’t really matter how old your child may be; the message should be age-appropriate.
Keep it simple for kindergarteners and preschoolers. One sentence may suffice to explain the situation.
Avoid news coverage for elementary school-aged children. Images they see can be distressing and may stay with them.
Start the conversation with tweens by asking them how they feel about it. Listen to what they say and what their feelings.
Teenagers should be encouraged to seek out solutions and perhaps to challenge you about your actions in the face of difficult situations. Parents should be understanding and open to listening to their children. Ask your teenager to share their ideas.
It doesn’t matter how old your child, it’s OK to tell them how upset you are.
David Schonfeld, a pediatrician and director at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, stated that if your child questions why someone would do such a thing, it’s okay to tell them.
“I wouldn’t provide false reassurance or dismiss legitimate concerns,”He said. “We don’t help children by telling them they shouldn’t be afraid of things that are frightening.”
Be on the lookout for signs of stress
“When a child undergoes stress, especially for younger kiddos, they oftentimes don’t have the words to express what they’re feeling so they might internalize some of that stress and we know stress has an impact on our bodies,”Natalie Alexis is a clinical psychologist.
Alexis states that stress can lead to stomachaches, headaches, insomnia, and sleep problems in children as young as three years old if they aren’t capable of processing their emotions.
Jesse Lewis, Scarlett Lewis’s son, was among 20 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that took place December 14, 2012. Scarlett lost Jesse and quit her job to advocate for better mental health resources and emotional wellbeing in schools. She also advocates for a free curriculum that can prevent future violence.
The National Alliance on Mental Health states that excessive stress and early mental health problems can lead to permanent damage. “also look like a personality change.”
“For example, if your child is typically socially interactive, but begins to withdraw and has no interest in others, this could be an indicator of an underlying mental health issue,”The mental health organisation Its website states:.
Some symptoms of prolonged stress following trauma include:
- Flashbacks and memory problems: Disruptions
- Trauma-related thoughts and recurring thoughts
- Emotional numbing is the avoidance of social contact and emotional contact with others.
- They may panic at any moment, and a hyper-state is created.
Experts suggest that your child should be alert for any signs. Then ask open-ended questions so that your child can share their worries with you.
You can take care of yourself too
Research shows that in difficult situations, it’s often parents who are more anxious than their children. Parents must manage their emotions.
“Kids will pick up on the fact that adults around them feel uncomfortable and something is unsafe and that will trigger a child’s anxiety more than just seeing something on the news,” Dr. Rachel Merson, the clinical director of the Child Adolescent Fear and Anxiety Treatment program at Boston University, said.
Here is a list containing information about mental health resources in Southern California.