Four days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, everyone is still trying to get their heads straight. As parents, we’re still trying to deal with our own anxiety, but how do you explain Friday’s violence to children, if you do at all? MSNBC says it’s about meeting your children where they are.
Many parents have decided have not to talk to their children about the tragedy at all, saying they’re just too young. But if your child does know something is going on, you should sit down with them and have a conversation. Experts say that for children in preschool or early elementary school, it’s best to start with a general conversation about death. Preschoolers may understand that plants and animals die but when it coems to people, it’s easy for them to imagine that they’ll come back. Be firm, without saying that someone can or will “go away”. Parents definitely shouldn’t tell them someone has “gone to sleep”, because that can give kids a new kind of anxiety about bedtime.
If your child becomes scared and asks, “Will you die?” or worse, “will I die?” reassure them that you don’t be dying anytime soon and you will make sure everyone in the family stays safe. Child psychologists suggest you use concrete examples for your children. Show them a toy that doesn’t work because the batteries have run out and explain, when our bodies die, we’re unable to replace the batteries. It won’t be easy and it may take some time for it to really sink in for children but be patient, clear and honest.
Have you talked to your kids about Sandy Hook?
Words: Desiree Browne