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Monday, December 17th, 2012
We decided kind-of last minute to tell our 6-year-old about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown. Since the horrific news broke on Friday, my wife and I had been in agreement that we’d do our best to shield Adira from the news. But a few things came together Sunday night to change our minds: a message from the school assuring us that teachers would be available to discuss the tragedy with the kids; my friends’ Facebook; this extremely helpful post from my colleague, Kara Corridan about talking to kids about Sandy Hook; and the dawning realization that Adira is at the age where we simply cannot shield her anymore. She was bound to hear–from a friend with an older sibling, from a snippet of conversation or radio news she may overhear, from a teacher answering another child’s questions.
We decided it was better for her to hear the news from us, and so this morning, while rushing to get dressed and out the door, we told her, hewing closely to the suggested script in Kara’s post. I told her that a bad man went into a school in a place called Connecticut and hurt some children with a gun, and some children and some teachers died. I assured her that her school was safe and that her teachers, principal, and the security guard are making double sure of that.
Her immediate reaction bordered on the comical, and was certainly unexpected. “What do you want me to do about it?” she asked. “I’m not a doctor or anything like that.”
Kind of funny, kind of sad that she immediately got defensive. I felt bad, like I’d presented it all wrong.
But before we could really respond to that, she shifted gears and asked some of the questions we’d expected. She quickly honed in on the shooter, asking what happened to him. When I said that he, too, died, she asked if a teacher killed him or if the police did. That question made me realize she was processing this thoughtfully and ruminating on the details. I told her that the man killed himself with his gun, and reiterated that her school is safe and that she could ask any questions. She soon moved on to other conversations, but picked it up again on the walk to school, asking how many kids and teachers died, focusing on whether it was “most of the school.”
I am sure we will talk more about it later, and I assume there will be discussion at school. The principal said in his message that the school would only discuss the tragedy with younger grades in response to questions (while they would proactively lead discussion with the older kids). All in all, I felt like it was a good start and I was glad we decided to discuss it with Adira.
I am wondering: Did you talk about the Sandy Hook tragedy with your young children? How did the conversations go? More broadly, I am wondering how school drop-off went this morning and what your kids’ schools are doing to address the news with children of different ages?
For more information on how to talk to your kids about tragedy, visit the following on Parents.com:
Image: Mother and her son via Shutterstock
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Friday, December 14th, 2012
It’s hard to find the right words—or really any words—to describe what happened today. For what happened today at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, was every parent’s worst nightmare, made real and flashed on the TV news. What I see is a school that’s virtually identical to my daughters’ idyllic little elementary school, and parents and kids who look like our friends. And words fail me as I think of my friends rushing toward the school, and a scenario where some walk out, teary-eyed and clutching their children close—and some don’t. What are the right words for that?
There will be much to talk about in the days and weeks to follow, as more information comes out about what occurred, and who was lost, and why this happened. As we begin to dissect our country’s deep failings: Our inability to pass gun laws that keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them; our lack of care for the mentally ill (for surely, a person who would plot and plan to attack children with an arsenal of assault weapons must be mentally ill); and our inability to keep even our youngest children safe from harm. And as we, hopefully, push for the changes we need to make to prevent another Columbine, another Virginia Tech, and now, another Sandy Hook.
Right now, these are the only words I can find: Our kids deserve a better world than this. And we need to work together to make it happen.
For information and resources on dealing with the tragedy, visit the following on Parents.com:
Image: fasphotographic /Shutterstock.com
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Monday, June 13th, 2011
A few weeks ago, we shared a few tips from Project Recovery Iowa on how parents can talk to kids about natural disasters.
We interviewed Project Recovery Iowa to provide you with more advice on the ways parents can discuss catastrophes and tragic news stories without traumatizing children. Advice includes being sensitive to your children’s reactions and emphasizing the government’s progress to prevent/reduce suffering.
There is also helpful responses based on different age groups (ages 1-5, 6-11, 12-18) and ideas on how to cope with grief.
Read the full interview on how to talk to kids about difficult topics.
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catastrophes, catastrophic events, disaster, disasters, Fear, fears, natural disasters, News, news events, project recovery iowa, talking to kids, tornado, tragedies, tragedy, tv news | Categories:
GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, Your Child
Friday, May 27th, 2011
Natural disasters are making the news again, the most recent being an endless string of tornadoes that struck mostly midwestern and southern states in the U.S., including Oklahoma, Alabama, Iowa, Indiana, and Missouri. Increasing TV updates and news photos focusing on the death toll and destruction brings to mind other disturbing images of the Japan tsunami from March.
Parents.com consulted experts from Project Recovery Iowa, a Department of Human Services program funded by FEMA and administered by the state of Iowa. Project Recovery Iowa offers mental health counseling for those affected by natural disasters. The program was started in 2008 to assist people coping with the after effects of severe storms and flooding in Iowa. Amanda Gesme, Children’s Manager at Project Recovery Iowa and licensed mental health counselor, shared advice on how parents can talk to kids about natural disasters.
First, parents should approach the topic of tragic events in a calm, patient, and truthful manner. If your children are aware of current events, it’s ok to ask them first to start a discussion and answer questions, even ones that are repeated over and over. Kids are looking for reassurance when processing information, so be open to talking. Even if you don’t have all the answers, says Gesme, validate what your child tells you. However, make sure to limit exposure to media or any unnecessary details. “Children are smart — even if parents are careful and talk in whispers or behind closed doors, they know that ‘something’ is going on,” explains Gesme. Even children as young as 2 years old are aware when something important is happening.
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GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, News
Friday, March 11th, 2011
The 8.9 earthquake that hit Japan and caused a tsunami calls to mind other large-scale natural disasters from past years, such as the Indian Ocean tsunami and earthquake in 2004, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the Haiti earthquake in 2010.
Oftentimes, talking about tragedies–whether worldwide or personal ones–can be difficult. It involves explaining how and why bad things can happen to good people in the world, cultivating your child’s empathy and compassion, and making sure your child understands serious events without being too upset, scared or traumatized.
In light of this recent event, here are some guidelines to help you explain natural disasters and catastrophes to kids.
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catastrophes, catastrophic events, disaster, disasters, earthquake, earthquakes, Fear, fears, natural disasters, tragedies, tragedy, trauma, tsunami, tv news | Categories:
GoodyBlog, Health & Safety, News, Your Child