How To Speak With Your Children About Violence And Dealing With Tragedy
For most parents talking to their child can become a struggle. As that child turns into a teenager it's only natural for them to want more space and independence.
When something tragic like the Oxford High School Shooting happens everyone can be at a loss for words, especially parents who don't know what to say or what to do when it comes to having a conversation about it with their child.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has just shared some great tools and information that you can use to help navigate an incredibly tough situation like a school shooting.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) says you can use the steps below to speak with your children about violence and help them cope through tragedy.
- Reassure children that they are safe.
Validate their feelings and let them know all feelings are okay when a tragedy occurs.
- Make time to talk. Be patient and let children guide how much information you share by the questions they ask. Young children may need other activities like drawing or playing to identify and express feelings.
- Keep explanations developmentally appropriate based upon age.
- Review safety procedures both at school and at home.
- Observe your child's emotional state. Note that children may not be able to verbally express grief and may need the help of a mental health professional.
- Limit television viewing of the events.
- Maintain a normal routine. A regular schedule can help with healing and aid in managing grief.
Dr. Debra Pinals the MDHHS medical director for behavioral health and forensic programs said in regards to the tragic shooting at Oxford High School.
As we move forward step by step as a community, the questions and worries can be overwhelming. With anxiety and depression rates already heightened in the context of the pandemic, a tragedy like what happened at Oxford High School will need to be processed, and people will need to communicate about their concerns, even if they may be reluctant to do so. There is no shame in accessing support for emotional stress and trauma, and we encourage those who need that support to reach out to a health care provider or call 2-1-1 for local resources that can meet your needs.