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Resources for Parents - Feeling Safe
Good advice for talking to students:
- Focus on the fact that many people are working to keep them safe. Point out specific ways your child's school is practicing safety (ex. exits are locked, intercom system to alert if there is a problem, everyone has to go through the front office, safety drills their school may practice, school safety officers).
Allow your child to talk about fears. Help him or her with using "feeling" language so they can express themselves and be understood. Help your child build a vocabulary where they can talk about how they feel. Talking about fears is healthy. Being able to talk about how to manage fears is also healthy. It is unhealthy to feel fear and believe that it is a sign of weakness to have fear so it is better to not show it or keep quiet about it.
Ask your child questions to make it OK to talk about, "What would you do if you didn't feel safe in your school," "What if someone came in your school and you were afraid that you might get hurt." Talk about ways to keep yourself safe.
Talk about a plan so they can explore what they would do — kind of like a fire drill mentality to be able to manage the fear and make an unknown ("What would I do if something happened?") to a known ("This is what I would do if something happened.")
Limit exposure to news coverage. It can be mesmerizing and traumatic to keep hearing details of the shooting over and over. Acknowledge the news coverage, allow it in a small dose (depending on the age and emotional maturity of the child), and then turn it off and talk openly as a family to make it OK to talk about (that is better than redundancy of the details of what occurred as facts come out and new developments are reported).
Focus on "more is the same than is different." Don't change your plans after school because it is such a sad day. Keep routine and typical plans to help your child feel they are functioning and that the world is still what they know. Focus on normal activities to foster resilience.
Focus on how are we going to be better people because of tragedy. Whether it is the school shooting or the officer in Richardson being shot, direct your children to live life and take advantage of each day being important. Focus on living.