As much as I would like it if my children never heard about the shooting in Newtown, they don’t live in a bubble. Ultimately, they will hear about it on the news, from their friends or social media. Better it come from me. I just told kids, and sadly they ended up comforting me.
Some things to remember when discussing violence, such as this, with your kids:
- Nothing you say is going to protect them from something like this, so the pressure is off. Unlike speaking to them about abductions, you can’t get this wrong. Remember the only reason you are telling them is so they hear it in a comfortable setting, from someone who cares about them.
- Start slow. Be very general, and give them the information in doses they can handle.
- Sit close. Be ready to lean in for a hug, hold their hand or let them lie on your lap. Kids may initially get a feeling very unfamiliar to them – vulnerability. It is important for them to know they are loved, and that there are many adults who are dedicated to keeping them safe – parents, family, police, armed forces, etc.
- Be honest (kids respond to honesty), but watch out when expressing anger. Yes, we are all infuriated by the senselessness of this tragedy, but let your kids have their own reaction. Don’t expect anything – they may ignore you, cry, giggle, scream, have a million questions, have no questions. Any reaction is normal. Remember, you don’t even understand what you’re feeling right now, and you are the grown up. Don’t pressure them to feel a certain way.
- Answer only the questions they ask. Don’t try to make sense out of it for them. Just let them know you are available for any questions or discussion at any time.
My thoughts and prayers, like yours, go out to the victims, their families, the first responders and the town of Newton.