Even if you’re not a mental health professional, you may have some insight into what parents and kids go through when discussing gun violence and school shooting.
Perhaps you have a child or know someone who has lost a child to school shooting. You may have a personal story to share, or even just an experience that you think might be helpful.
If you are not a mental health professional, this guide will help you talk and comfort your kids about gun violence.
Talking About School Shooting to Children: A Guide
1. Use Simple Sentences
Kids aren’t very good at figuring out what words mean. When they hear the word “gun,” they may have a hard time imagining what that word means, especially if it’s new to them.
Using simple sentences is important because it helps kids focus on the point you’re trying to make. It also helps them remember your message later on.
They might not understand what danger a gun can have, but you can help them see the difference between guns in real life and guns in movies.
2. Let Them Ask Questions
Kids are curious by nature. They love to ask questions and they want to know everything. Let them ask questions and give them the answers they need.
Talking to children about violence is difficult. Many parents avoid talking about it because they are afraid of their child getting hurt.
This can cause a lot of stress and anxiety in the family, which is something you don’t want to deal with when your child is at home alone.
It’s important to tell your child about what happened to you and let them know you love them no matter what happens.
Let them know that there are people who will help them if they ever need it.
3. Be Patient With Them
Children have a short attention span and can get bored easily.
That’s why you need to make sure that you keep your message short, but clear so that your child can understand it completely.
You don’t want them getting distracted by other things in the room, like a TV or a pet dog or cat. Keep the discussion simple and focused on the topic at hand.
Elementary school children need simple language and short sentences. You don’t want to overwhelm them with complex words and information.
Also, make sure that you are consistent in how you speak to your child. Don’t go from soft to stern in the blink of an eye.
They need to know that they can count on you being there for them, no matter what they do or say.
Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash.
4. Assure Them They’re Safe
Children feel a sense of safety when they’re with their parents. School day after school day, you’ll need to reassure them they’re safe in your presence.
Give them hugs and kisses and tell them how much you love them. Tell them how much you trust them and what a great job they’re doing.
Show your child that you have their best interests at heart by reassuring them they’re safe.
5. Be Honest With Them
If you’ve lost someone close to you because of school shooting, it’s important for you to be honest with your kids about this issue.
That way, they can see how it affects other people’s lives and their own lives.
Let them know that many other people have lost loved ones because of gun violence, too—and that’s not something anyone wants to happen to anyone else.
If they accidentally see news coverage of gun violence, or if they overhear conversations about guns, it‘s important for them to know that this is a very serious issue.
It‘s important for them to have an open discussion with you about this issue and about how you feel about it.
6.Encourage Them to Express Their Feelings
Children are often very emotional, especially when they’re young. They can feel sad, angry, or scared.
If you see your child is crying or showing other signs of sadness, you can help them express their feelings.
News reports are full of stories about how parents or teachers should have recognized signs of a child being suicidal and intervened. The same is true for expressing their feelings.
Children can’t express their feelings if they don’t know how to talk about them.
As you encourage your child to talk about their feelings, you can learn what they’re feeling and help them work through the emotions.
7. Offer Help When They Need It
If your child seems upset after talking about gun violence with you, let him or her know that he or she can talk to you anytime if he or she needs help deal with his or her feelings.
You can let your child know that you’ll be there for them and that you’re willing to listen to what they have to say.
A tragic event like this can leave your child feeling like no one understands what he or she is going through.
That’s why it’s important to show your child that you care and that you’re willing to listen.
Photo by Serge van Neck on Unsplash.
8. Show Your Kids How You Feel About Gun Violence
Children notice when adults express their feelings, so they may understand what you’re feeling and why you feel the way you do about gun violence.
It’s important for them to see that you care about this issue and that they can count on you to be there for them when they need help.
A sense of security and trust is important to children’s well-being. It’s up to you to set a good example of how you want your child to grow up.
Show them that gun violence is something that’s wrong and that they shouldn’t have to worry about it happening in their own neighborhood.
Give Them Back a Sense of Normalcy
This guide helps parents talk with their children about gun violence, but it doesn’t cover every topic.
Our blog, The Mindful Parent, is designed to help you understand and manage your child’s emotions.
We provide tools, tips, and resources to help you stay calm and focused so that you can be a more mindful parent.
For more tips on how to talk to your kids about gun violence, check out our blog now.