Helping Your Kids (And Yourself) in the Midst of a Tragedy

When will the madness end? That’s a question so many of us are asking ourselves today.  It is so hard to know how to cope with senseless violence of any kind, but especially when it involves so many kids in a place where they are supposed to feel safe.

As we struggle to cope with the tragedy in Connecticut today, I offer a couple of tips for families:

Talk about it.  Many of us find it useful to process and talk about tragedies – especially when they are as confusing and senseless as the one today.  This goes for grown-ups and kids alike.  Allow yourself and your family members (even the little ones) time to express feelings, fears, and worries over today’s events.  Talk about what you and your family do to keep each other safe, and take a moment to cherish each other – out loud.

Turn it off.  Just as it’s crucial to express our thoughts, it is just as important to put an end to the conversation at an appropriate point.  This can mean turning off news coverage, taking a break from Facebook, and providing our children (and ourselves) with other, safer things to do (watch a holiday movie, make cookies, play Wii, etc).  The details of the shooting in CT will be in the news for days and weeks to come.  You will not be missing anything by turning off the news reports, and in fact you will be doing a lot to maintain your mental health.

Need more ideas and resources about how to manage stress in the aftermath of a tragedy?

Helping Your Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting (APA)

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline: 800-985-5990

Managing Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting (APA)

Tips for Talking with Kids and Youth After a Disaster or Traumatic Event (SAMHSA): A Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers