As a national community, we grieve for the children and school personnel lost on Friday in Newtown Connecticut.
When events such as these occur, we search for ways to support our children, students, and ourselves. Resources from organizations such as National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and American Psychological Association (APA) help to guide us as professionals, parents and community members. Several ideas for helping to reassure our children of their safety are:
- Reduce exposure to television and news for the near future to reduce anxiety and intense emotional responses.
- Calmly discuss with your children that the event occurred but reinforce their safety by telling them that many people at home and in the school help to keep them safe. Relate that educators’ priority is safety.
- If your children come home from school with questions about comments they may have heard, truthfully clarify and answer. Follow the answers with statements that calmly relate that they are safe and that they have many adults who focus on their safety.
- Focus on describing the compassion that comes from the community and nation in your discussions with your children to reinforce the caring that people so often share with each other.
- Let your children know that any emotions they feel are acceptable and provide the support and comfort they need.
- Keep your schedule normal to continue comfortable routines, but allow for emotional expression and flexibility in activities as needed.
- Get to now the safety plan at your children’s school and ensure that you are linked to the communication notification system that your school or district provides.
(Gathered from NASP and APA)
There are extremely helpful resources available for parents and educators on the Internet. Please take time to read them and utilize the suggestions and ideas as needed.
- This site has links for parents, administrators and teachers
- The NASP official statement is also posted on this site.
- This site has a link to a helpful page for parents to provide ideas for supporting their children and themselves. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/aftermath.aspx
As a community we can support the needs of our children. These helpful resources can guide our discussions to allow us to comfort our children and help them know we strive to keep them safe.
– Written by Shayna Whitehouse, PhD, School Psychologist, Board of Directors, Healthy Learning Paths