Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those touched by Friday morning’s devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and while this senseless act has left many of us distraught, there are ways for all of us to help.
Talking to Your Children:
The biggest question children are likely to have is whether something similar can happen to them. Parents should reassure them and help them feel safe while also providing age and developmentally appropriate information.
Here are some tips for talking to your children about the shooting:
• Take care of yourself first. Calm your own fears and anxiety before talking to your children. They pick up on your emotions, and your calm demeanor will go a long way to reassure.
• Turn off TV and other media. Graphic details and images can be upsetting to all of us. Younger children may think that the event is happening over and over. Tuning in for the latest is tempting; pace yourself with the news and listen in only when children are out of earshot.
• Consider the child’s age when deciding whether bring it up. A preschooler may not know about the event and probably doesn’t need to know about it. Answer questions if they ask.
• Be proactive with older children. You can start the conversation with “you may have heard about…” and ask what questions they may have.
• Help the child understand that it is OK to feel sad or angry that this happened.
• Reassure and emphasize their safety. Discuss the steps that adults in their life take to keep them safe, such as their schools’ safety plan and safety measures taken at home.
• Help your child find ways to cope with their fear and grief. Providing outlets like artwork or imaginative play can help them process their feelings. Draw on ways your family typically copes with a crisis such as sending a card, making a donation as a family to help the victims or praying together.
If you or your child need additional help dealing with this tragedy, be sure to contact your doctor or mental health provider. (See Editor’s Note below)
Individuals and classes throughout the Culver City Unified School District will be mailing cards and letters to show their solidarity and support for those touched by this tragedy. If you would like to join them in writing, please send your cards and letters to:
Sandy Hook Elementary School
12 Dickenson Drive
Sandy Hook, CT 06482
The Newtown School Board is requesting that, in lieu of gifts, donations be made to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund at Newtown.uwwesternct.org or mailed to:
Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main St.
Newtown, CT 06470
Remember to keep in mind the first responders who have had also to deal with this tragedy. Letters of support for the police officers of Newtown, Conn., can be sent to:
Newtown Police Department
3 Main Street
Newtown, CT 06470
Editor’s Note – Do you need help ? There are wonderful resources in our community for mental health. Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center has several locations and can be reached at 310 – 390- 6612 or go to www.didihirsch.org. Antioch University offers sliding scale counseling at 310- 574-2813. If your children need help, family counseling is available from both services.
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