The recent loss in Newtown has been overwhelming. Tears streamed for days, and it is still difficult for me to talk about it without choking up. So many, so young, so senseless. The effect on those who survive is beyond imagination. The news and discussion of these events may also be difficult to discuss and process with our own children. But there are good ways to approach this tragedy with young children who may ask questions that are difficult to answer. And it may be good therapy for each of us to participate in healing activities, regardless of how in depth our conversations may get, so we can process our own emotions, as well as bring support to those who are hurting the most right now.
PLEASE make sure to see the activities at the end. We want to send our support right away, so the time to act is now. Even if your child is unaware of the incident, these are wonderful ways to teach our children to spread cheer when there is a need.
Make sure to take care of yourself first
Just like in the airplane emergency guide, the instructions are clear. Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then help your child. It is the best way for all to get successfully through a traumatic incident.
Connections between very young children and their parents are so profound and strong. We know what you feel as a parent, becomes your child’s emotion in no time at all. Outrage, heartbreak, and compassion is pouring out of us in the wake of this unimaginable act. Remember to take care of yourselves by being in conversation with other adults, and help those you know who may be struggling.
Protect your children from Tragedy Overload.
Images are everywhere, visuals on the television in news promotions during children’s programming, auditory on the radio, in grown up conversations that children always hear. As much as possible, shield them.
Fill their lives with the positive, in at least as much quantity as the “scary”, so they feel more of a balance. There is nothing like scooping up a child for a dance around the house, a clean up song, a bathtub tune, or a goodnight lullaby to bring equilibrium to lighten our heavy hearts.
Make sure to include activities that your child you know helps calm your child, reading a book, or making music. My hope is that Kindermusik, the joy and bonding and the sparkle that happens in our classes together, offers a safe harbor from the anxieties that surrounds us. Music is a balm, use it liberally to calm yourselves, to connect with your babies, to feel safe and grounded.
Of course, answer their questions when they ask.
This quote from Mr. Rogers is a classic, and may be all that is needed for young children.
Here is a resource he offers that you will find helpful in talking to children about tragedy. I like Mr. Roger’s recommendation that the first response is to find out what they know, factual or perhaps just
hearsay, and what emotions may be attached to this information before responding. Answer with just what is needed to help them sort out the facts, and reduce the worry.
KidPower also has more advice to Help Children Regain their Emotional Safety after a Tragedy.
And Parents magazine also has an article about School Schootings: The Conversations you Need to Have with your Kids.
Find out what works best for you and your children based on their age, and their reaction, to such events.
Take Time to Process through Actions and Activities
These type of activities help both the giver and the receiver, without hardly any expense at all. Let’s make their world just a little better through what we can share.
Hearts for Newtown and Snowflakes for Sandy Hook
Hearts for Newtown: We want to plaster the entire town with hearts, large and small, decorated any fashion. We’re labeling the hearts with the states and towns that they come from, and just want to
Find the address and follow the conversation on the Hearts to NewTown Facebook Page.show how far-reaching the support for Newtown is.
Snowflakes for Sandy Hook: This one is specific for the school. Newtown is in the process of moving all the furniture and stuff out of Sandy Hook and into their new temporary home, which is a school that had been mothballed in Monroe. We want to decorate the school with a winter wonderland theme, so when the children walk into that school on the first day, there are happy, welcoming sights for them to see.
Find the address and follow the conversation on the Ridgefield HamletHub Website.
Please share the ways that you and your family may be handling these issues with your children.