WHAT DO YOU SAY TO A CHILD?
This morning a young man shot his mother and went to the school where she taught and shot numerous children. In our media-saturated world, even the youngest children are aware that children are being killed. Parents find themselves being asked, “What if it happens to me?”
It’s critical for both parents and teachers to recognize that our children are incredibly sensitive to what’s going on. Their first concern is how it affects them. They’re also sophisticated enough to know that there is only so much we can do to protect them from such senseless acts. Betsy Schwartz, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Houston and Harris County says, “Even children old enough to watch news reports of the disaster should have such television viewing limited. Constant repetition should be avoided. One reason these shootings are so traumatic for both children and adults is that we have to face the fact of our vulnerability. It’s something we all share. There’s nothing we can really do, and any time our physical safety is something you don’t have control over, that’s traumatic.”
One of the biggest mistakes we can make as parents and educators is not to discuss the issues of global social problems over which we have no control. Adult silence about complex and worrisome issues encourages young people to feel abandoned, to restrict awareness, and to withdraw from the corrective process. In voicing your concern, however, avoid hand wringing and self-indulgent gloom. Express the spiritual beliefs that your family has. It’s perfectly okay to tell your children that we have to prepare as best we can, then put ourselves in God’s hands.
It’s important to recognize that very young children may not be able to verbalize being bothered or upset by the things they’re hearing and seeing. Be alert to behavioral changes – sleep disturbances, irritability, or regression to actions such as thumb-sucking or needing a blanket. Use the same gentle questioning and reassurance that you might have used in discussing the original traumatic event. Children afraid of coming to school can be asked what can be done to make them more confident. For example, children afraid of the dark can be given a flashlight. It’s a simple thing and one the child doesn’t usually need for very long. But it puts the child back in control of her world; it enables her to cope.
We all want our children to have confident and happy days. During trying times is when we teach our children those skills they will need to begin each day. Days filled with hope and optimism that not only will we survive, but that we will thrive.
Update – I have been moving so fast and doing too many different things I have not been checking emails.
Thank you for your kind thoughts and well wishes.
I have found out the school is being purchased by Memorial Garden Montessori they have two or three other schools. They have purchased furniture and the materials in the school from me and. It is all really bitter sweet, I am still unsure of where to begin the next chapter the sweet is the possibilities, I have other goals and dreams I’d like to pursue and for that I am really excited. Forgive me for not being available to say goodbye to everyone, I truly wish you all well.