How To Talk To Your Kids About School Shootings - Advice From Psychologist And Award Winning Selfie Film Maker Barbara Becker Holstein
Being a parent has never been easy. However, being a parent in a world in which school shootings seem to happen constantly is beyond difficult. How can we, as parents, understand the fear, the pressure and the overwhelming emotional distress these inflict upon our children? While most parents and grandparents have never dealt with this issue, they have dealt with other issues that can serve to open a meaningful dialogue in the interest of helping kids feel safe. Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, psychologist and award winning selfie film maker offers some down to earth advice regarding how to talk to your children about school violence.
* Great grandparents may be able to tell stories of rationing of food and dark shades over all the windows during WW2, anxieties that the United States would be hit along the shore by torpedos.
* Grandparents can share hiding under the school desks or being escorted to a basement deep in the school building in case of an atomic bomb attack.
* Parents can share the Twin Towers coming down and other tragedies of the last 20 years.
Children being able to see that their own family members have survived trying times is important, as resiliency is to some extent a learned behavior. If people we love have been brave, then it gives us courage, no matter what our ages.
* As feelings are expressed about school shootings, take the time to explain to your child or children what is being down at their schools to protect them. You may want to accompany your child or children and have the principal or guidance counselor sit with all of you and explain safety in the school's building.
* Don't spend family time obsessing on safety. What you can really provide children as parents, grandparents, even great grandparents is a feeling of 'coming home' of 'belonging' of being 'understood' that never fades away. The home is a sanctuary for love and peace of mind that you all work at every day.
Some easy steps:
* Hug your child. Make sure he or she feels that no matter what you expect of him or her, somehow he or she is "alright, just the way he or she is."
* Spend time listening and chatting with your children. Phones and other devices need to be put away during sharing time, meal time, bed time. Perhaps spend some of this time writing to elected officials with your kids encouraging officials to make laws that improve school safety and reduce gun violence in general. This is a great way to begin to teach your children how to be responsive and involved citizens.
* Intentionally have fun as a family. Laugh, joke (but don't make fun of each other) play games, cook together, watch appropriate programs and films, plant a garden, even it if is just in a bucket, do some charity work together or just bake cookies for the senior citizen that lives down the street, keep a jar full of slips of paper on which you or they have written something nice that happened this week or special moments. Read them aloud once a week.
* Clap, laugh, enjoy.