Our nation has come together, unified too often, in grief after tragic events such as in Odessa, El Paso, Dayton, Parkland, Orlando, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas and the list goes on. And while we as a country continue to mourn, many of us have children both young and old who may be asking difficult questions. Here are a few tips on how to talk to your kids after a national tragedy.
First, know that many schools often host grief counselors for their students after a national tragedy. This is a great first step for students to bring up their concerns, fears and thoughts after such events. If you have a counselor or therapist that already works with you and your family, encourage that as a safe and productive place for your children to work through any anxieties they may have after a tragic event.
Address your child's fears with patience. If they saw a story online or heard a news story, be patient and know that there are likely many questions your child may have. Don't be afraid to limit news coverage in the home for a little while: continuing to see the same story over and over again may be distressing to younger children. Older children and teens are often connected to the world via smartphones and social media: let them know that if they see something that upsets them or worries them that it is something that can be talked about openly.
Go over a safety plan with your children. Many kids from as young as elementary school have cell phones. Encourage them to call law enforcement if they feel something is wrong or if they are in danger. Ask your children to re-familiarize themselves with their schools lock-down procedures: knowing their exits and options can save lives.
In these trying times, know that we stand with you and your family. For more grief support resources - feel free to stop by our funeral home - we are here for you.