Published date: May 26, 2022
On this page, you'll find several suggestions and articles on managing the complex feelings and conversations that may arise in the days and weeks ahead.
HealthyChildrens.org offers great information about how to talk to your children about tragedies. When starting these conversations, many experts agree that simply asking what they have heard and already know is a good place to start.
The American School Counselor Association shared these additional suggestions for working through times of mental and emotional stress with your child:
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has several resource articles related to managing the aftermath of school shootings, such as Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event and Parent Guidelines for Helping Youth after the Recent Shooting.
Caregivers of young children may also find this video by our friends at Sesame Street helpful in framing a conversation about violence in our communities.
In times like these, it's important to monitor your child's mental health. Keep a close eye out for changes in mood, sleep, diet and personal engagement. Keep in mind stress often manifests itself in headaches or stomachaches in children. Please help your child acknowledge their feelings and name their emotions. If your child has negative thoughts, remind them that it's okay not to feel okay sometimes. As a parent or caregiver, it's important to be even more mindful and attentive to signs of kids becoming mentally exhausted.
Lessons in mindfulness or meditation are good tools for stress management. Simple breathing techniques can be beneficial, and a few minutes each morning helps set the tone for the rest of the day. Even young children can benefit from the “balloon breath” exercise. Have your child inhale through their nose and make their belly expand like a balloon. Then have them exhale through the nose while pulling the belly in, deflating the “balloon.” This exercise can help ease the physical effects of stressful situations.
If you're concerned about your child's mental health, there are several options for professional help:
Add these numbers to your child’s phone contacts and remind them counselors are always available to talk.