Helping children cope with traumatic events

Following the Uvalde shooting, I found myself trying to figure out how to explain the event to my son. He caught my husband and I talking about it – disturbing about it – and I wanted to understand. I didn’t know how to talk to him about it, but I realized that eventually I should. After all, school shootings had become a widespread problem across the country; there was no way to keep them away from him forever.

Since the start of 2022, the United States has faced 27 school shootings, according to NPR. In 2021, the United States faced 34 school shootings. The alarming statistics have many parents, myself included, wondering: How do I talk to my children about school shootings and other traumatic events?

I contacted Laramie, the cathedral house in Wyoming for help. Their mental health clinicians have provided guidance on dealing with traumatic events with children – and how adults can deal with their stress and emotional turmoil in such circumstances. Here’s what they had to say:

Take care of yourself first

Adults who bring up traumatic topics need to be careful to process their own emotions. Our children often feed on our own emotions, so it’s best to approach the discussion calmly and calmly.

Open with questions

Chances are your kids heard about the traumatic events somewhere. Between Facebook, the media and the school, it is difficult to keep them away from such subjects. Give them time to ask any questions they may have about the event before launching into an explanation.

For children from 5 to 9 years old

Recognize that even young children are aware of traumatic events. It is not uncommon for children to undergo active shooter drills in kindergarten – they understand the danger to some degree. Cathedral Home advisers recommend keeping young children away from the media and limiting their exposure to adult conversations about the event. Instead, let them ask questions of you or a counselor. Just being there for them will help reassure your child that the adults in their life are working to protect them.

For children from 10 to 12 years old

Older children are more aware of traumatic events than parents and teachers realize. The best thing you can do for them at this age is to allow them to express their worries, fears and questions to you. Cathedral Home experts noted that children might ask questions about their safety at school. Parents and teachers can respond by offering safety protocols and action plans to follow in dangerous situations. Teachers and counselors are other great resources for private discussions with students about their fears.

For children aged 13 and over

This age group has easier access to media and information, so it is best to address their concerns quickly. Counselors at Cathedral Home recommend providing space for teens to express concerns, anger, fear, and other emotions while parents and school counselors validate their concerns. Additionally, you can remind young people of safety measures and protocols to keep them safe during dangerous situations.

Takeaway meals

While it’s hard to talk about traumatic events like the Uvalde, Texas shooting with children, it’s critical to assure your family or students of their safety and support network. Don’t be afraid to contact a school counselor to help you broach the subject with your children. they are there to help you. And don’t forget to process your own emotions and fears that stem from traumatic events – taking care of yourself will help. you better help your children during these stressful times.

Learn more about the cathedral house

  • To download Cathedral Home’s tips for helping children through traumatic events, click here.
  • For more information on mental health services and other programs at Cathedral Home, click here.

KEEP READING: Scroll to see what the headlines were the year you were born