Few events hit home for children and families like a school shooting. When children see such an event on television or on Web-based news flashes, it is natural for them to worry about their own school and their own safety, particularly if the violence occurred nearby or in a neighboring city or state.
Talk to your children
Psychologists who work in the area of trauma and recovery advise parents to use the troubling news of school shootings as an opportunity to talk and listen to their children. It is important, say these psychologists, to be honest. Parents should acknowledge to children that bad things do happen, but also reassure them with the information that many people are working to keep them safe, including their parents, teachers and local police.
Young children may communicate their fears through play or drawings. Elementary school children will use a combination of play and talk to express themselves. Adolescents are more likely to have the skills to communicate their feelings and fears verbally. Adults should be attentive to a child's concerns, but also try to help the children put their fears into proportion to the real risk. Again, it is important to reassure children that the adults in their lives are doing everything they can to make their environment — school, home, and neighborhood — safe for them.
Parents, teachers and school administrators also need to communicate with one another not only about how to keep kids safe but about which children might need more reassurance and the best way to give it to them.
Limit exposure to news coverage
Parents should also monitor how much exposure a child has to news reports of traumatic events, including these recent school shootings. Research has shown that some young children believe that the events are reoccurring each time they see a television replay of the news footage.
Know the warning signs
Most children are quite resilient and will return to their normal activities and personality relatively quickly, but parents should be alert to any signs of anxiety that might suggest that a child or teenager might need more assistance. Such indicators could be a change in the child's school performance, changes in relationships with peers and teachers, excessive worry, school refusal, sleeplessness, nightmares, headaches or stomachaches, or loss of interest in activities that the child used to enjoy. Also, remember that every child will respond to trauma differently. Some will have no ill effects; others may suffer an immediate and acute effect. Still, others may not show signs of stress until sometime after the event. - American Psychological Association
What It Was Like Talking to My Two Sons About School Shootings - J.W. Holland
How to Teach Boundaries to an Overly Affectionate Child
Before children can talk, they understand affection through touch. They are soothed by being held. They smile at a kiss, or a finger stroked across their cheek. They cling to their parents for comfort. But, as they grow old enough to communicate affection with words, many kids continue to show affection physically or demand it. Often these open displays of physical affection can make adults feel uncomfortable or put children that don't understand boundaries in danger. Fortunately, there are ways for parents to help kids understand that they are loved and also that they can’t hug everyone all the time.
Signs that a Child is Overly Affectionate:
- Talking to strangers about their personal life
- Sitting on the lap of a non-family member or acquaintance
- Running up to and hugging a stranger on the street
- Being overly clingy and huggy to family members
- Asking to “cuddle” or sleep with family members excessively
- Needing hugs or touch more than 5 times per day
- Asking non-family members for personal care
How to Deal with an Overly Affectionate Child
- Model good personal boundaries as well as physical boundaries with partners, friends, and other family members.
- Don’t react to boundary violations with anger.
- Remind children that it’s important to ask before hugging and kissing anyone, that it’s about respect.
- Be vigilant in teaching stranger danger and helping kids understand where and how they can be touched, as well as who to talk to if they are touched inappropriately. Read More