How to Talk to Your Parents about Newtown
Today is a sad day for all Americans. If you haven’t heard the news yet, there was a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. At least 25 people, including 20 children, were shot by a man who entered Sandy Hook Elementary School with a gun. There are a lot of questions about what happened, but there’s no doubt that the shooter was mentally ill and his life was also taken today. The whole country is mourning this terrible tragedy.
Here’s something important that you should know. Adults are upset about this, especially ones that have kids or work with kids. Their hearts are so full of love they could burst. They love you so much! Even though they know that you are safe, they might have a rough time dealing with this.
Here are some tips about how to talk to the adults in your life about today’s shooting:
- Assure them that feeling sad is ok. In fact, it’s normal to have lots of different feelings when something scary happens. Some people might feel angry, fearful, or something else. There’s no right or wrong way to feel, and there’s no perfect thing to do.
- Explain to them how safe your school is. Tell them about all the ways that your teachers make sure you are ok. You can even tell them that our school (Innovation Academy) has emergency procedures in place so that teachers would know how to protect you if something bad happened.
- Tell them to turn off the news. Sometimes adults can be a little media obsessed. It’s not so healthy, but lots of us do it. It’s good to know what’s going on, but too much news can be like replaying horror films before bed. That’s like asking for nightmares.
- Remind them about probability. You know about percentages, right? Make sure they realize that 99.9% of kids in the U.S. are safe right now. This is just one situation, and it seems big on the news, but that’s because they only show the bad stuff.
- Encourage them to get support if they need it. Honestly, kids are usually better at this than grown ups. Adults don’t want to admit that they need help because they want to appear all strong for you. It’s ok to ask for advice from other people. Asking for help is actually a very brave thing to do.
- Finally, give the adults in your life lots of hugs. Everyone needs hugs. Ideally, we should get lots of hugs every day, but especially when something sad happens.
Thanks for taking the time to think about how to support your parents today. They might need a reminder that there is much more good in the world than there is bad. If there’s anyone who can help them remember, it’s probably young people like you.
*Note: The photos from today’s post are ones I took while traveling in Peru, China, Mali, and Ukraine. I chose these ones because I think they capture the unique love can only exist between kids and their caregivers.
LINKS for Grown Up Type People:
- How to Talk to Kids About the CT School Shooting (Boston Globe)
- A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope (National Association of School Psychologists)
- Resources to Help in the Aftermath of School Shootings (American Academy of Pediatrics)
- CT School Shooting: Helping Kids Cope with Violence in the News (Seattle Children’s Hospital)
- Tips for Talking to Children about the Shooting (New York Times)
- Edutopia’s Suggested Resources for Talking About Sandy Hook