In wake of CT shooting, school officials offer suggestions on talking to children about tragedy

I am avoiding the news today. Partly to protect my 5-year-old daughter from hearing about today’s horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, partly to protect myself.

For those of you with older children, no doubt they will learn about the shooting in the coming days, if they haven’t already, putting you in the difficult position of trying to answer their questions. I don’t envy you that task.

In a message to parents this afternoon, Southborough school officials offered the following suggestions on how parents can help support their children in times of distress:

  • If your child asks you about the situation, provide simple age appropriate responses. Do not provide more information than they are seeking.
  • Monitor their exposure to news via TV, radio, etc.
  • Be aware of your own reactions and responses to the event so you don’t project anxiety.
  • Listen to your child and validate their concerns.
  • Respond to repeated questions, you may need to reassure them several times.
  • Reassure your child that we will continue to keep our school a safe place.

Parents, what do you say when your child asks why this happened? How to you reassure them that their school is safe? If you have tips or suggestions for your fellow parents, or thoughts on the tragedy in general, please share them in the comments.

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