After a school shooting, most parents find themselves confused because they don’t know what to say to their children. Advice on what to tell your child following after a school shooting can be easily found on various blogs and websites.
While some of the tips work, you’ll be disappointed by the number of important concepts missing. Today, we decided to solve this problem by offering you some of the best suggestions after a school shooting by conducting extensive research on more than six hundred children and young adults who have been exposed to different types of life-threatening events. Let’s get started!
1. Children need information
Let’s face it. We all crave for new information. We need information so that we can make informed decisions to improve the quality of our lives. The same applies to your children. Children are more curious than most adults.
However, most of the advice that is found on the internet encourages parents to limit their children’s access to information. This is not practical advice. If you have a teen with a smartphone, you probably know it is difficult to limit his or her access to information. It can also turn into an unnecessary battle.
Instead of trying to block their access, try to have peaceful discussions about what they are reading, watching, or listening to. You can ask to watch or read it with them or figure out what they’re watching and then go and watch it alone. Children need time and information to process what they have gone through.
2. Stay close after a crisis
After a school shooting, it’s always best to stay close to your children. You can consider taking a few days off from work and spending your time with them at home. They can’t reach out to you if you are always busy.
Plus, staying away from them will make it harder for you to understand what they are going through. If you can’t take some days off from work or your children enjoy spending most of their time with their peers, call them occasionally. Do not just say but show that you care about their wellbeing.
3. Figure out what they experienced
At some point, you’ll need to know what your child experienced during the school shooting. According to the psychology reports of thesis writing services, since most teens develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after such events, you need to know if your child is experiencing that. If your child felt like his or her life was in danger, or his or her siblings or friends were in danger, they have a higher likelihood of developing PTSD.
You don’t have to know all the details. However, you need to know some of the most important things. Did your child see the shooter? Did he or she see people getting shot? Did he or she see the bodies? How did he or she react? Did he or she have close relations with the victims?
According to the reviews of top essay writing services uk, it’s always important for parents to have such information on their fingertips because research studies show that clinicians miss PTSD diagnosis 62 percent of the time in patients who have later been proven to have it. If your child is developing PTSD, you need to detect the symptoms as early as you can.
Fortunately, most people are resilient. Research studies have shown that 70 percent of people who are exposed to life-threatening events don’t develop PTSD.
4. Children connect with their peer groups
Most youths text and chat all day long to connect with their clan. According to psychologist Rich Harris, the peer group plays a critical role in shaping a child. No matter what you do, your children will always identify with their friends and classmates instead of their parents.
Therefore, don’t force your child to spend more time with you than his or her peers. If you do this, he or she will start avoiding you. You can always talk to your child if you notice that his or her peers are becoming a bad influence.
5. Encourage your child to talk about it
When you are talking about the event with your children, it’s always important to figure out what the end goal is. They need to talk about it if you are trying to help them gather important information and process their thoughts and emotions.
However, it may not be helpful for them to talk about it if you just want them to feel better. Expecting your child or teen to feel better after such an event is unrealistic. Encourage your children to connect with their emotions.
Also, don’t try to make yourself feel better. You can always share your thoughts, emotions, and worries; however, it will be counterproductive if you are always doing all the talking. Don’t force them to talk about it if they are not comfortable. Be there for them. And they’ll bring it up on their own later.
6. Rephrase questions as statements
After a traumatic event, most parents ask their children a lot of questions. And this tends to hurt children. Asking too many questions will make it harder for your child to open up. Remember, a question is a demand for a response.
Your child is already going through a lot. And asking questions represents more demands being placed upon him or her. Instead of asking questions, consider turning your questions into statements. It’s not going to be easy, but it takes practice. You can read books and watch videos to master this skill.
7. Admit your distress
In most cases, children hold back their thoughts and emotions to avoid upsetting their parents. This is quite common especially when parents hold very high expectations for their children.
One of the best ways to get around this is to be direct. If you are anxious or upset, admit it. When children see that you can admit your distress, they’ll feel comfortable sharing their distress. While holding high expectations for your children can motivate them to do their best, it’s important to keep in mind that they are not perfect. Let your child know that making mistakes is part of life by admitting your own.
8. Less is more
Read your child’s verbal and body language. If he or she does not want to talk about it then let him or her be for now. People react in different ways. Some children will process their thoughts and emotions and heal quickly when they are not pushed to talk. No one solution works in such experiences.
9. Is your child safe?
Most parents are encouraged to reassure their children that they are safe after school shootings because such cases are rare or security at their school has been doubled or tripled. While this might help your children feel better, they already know that a shooting at school is possible. They witnessed it. They have no idea when it might happen next. And they need a plan in case it happens again. Therefore, parents need to figure out if their children are safe or not.
10. Don’t tell them to calm down
Don’t tell your children to calm down after a stressful event. If they had the power to calm down, they would have done it already. Validating their emotions works better than telling them to calm down. Also, don’t tell your children that everything will be ok. A scary event just happened and everything is not okay. Your acceptance of that can help them feel better.
11. Enhance their sense of safety
You can enhance their sense of safety by allowing them to sleep with you, asking them what you can do to make them feel safe, and taking a few days off from work.
12. Figure out the triggers
Try to see things from the perspective of your child. Pay attention to the triggers in their environment. Once you’ve identified the triggers, shield them against these triggers.
13. Get treatment
If PTSD symptoms last for more than a month, it’s time to seek professional help. Research studies have shown that more than 90 percent of individuals show symptoms of PTSD within the first month following the traumatic event. If these symptoms persist, they are unlikely to go away on their own. Therefore, your child needs to get treated.
Children who have other mental issues are at a greater risk of falling into depression and having suicidal thoughts especially if they think that they are responsible for hurting their loved ones. Observing your child and seeking professional help as early as possible will help your child connect and process his or her thoughts and emotions and heal quickly.