Heavily publicized acts of violence that occur in school settings often frighten and confuse young children. It is important to realize that your child understands more than you may think. If they happen to see or hear about violent acts, they will need you to provide them with adequate guidance and information to help put their fears at ease. Here are a few ways to discuss violence with your child.
- Let your child know they’re safe.
Instances of violence in schools can create feelings of fear and anxiety in children of any age. It is important to reassure them that schools are usually a very safe place. Allow them to express their feelings of uncertainty to you and help them come up with ways of staying safe if violence happens around them. Empowering them to find a trusted adult in their school is all the encouragement some children may need to feel safe in class.
- Allow your child to ask questions.
Letting your child ask you questions instead of assuming what they may want to know could save you a lot of difficulty in the long run. Try not to immediately offer overwhelming amounts of information regarding violence. Simply answer their questions in a clear and concise manner to eliminate confusion. Always offer your explanations with compassion and ease.
- Turn off the news around your child.
While you cannot protect your child from everything that happens, you can control the amount of information they consume. The news programming adults are equipped to process easily can be very scary for young children. If they are in the room, turn off the television or turn on lighter programming that will be easier for them to understand.
- Explain that violence is never a solution.
Occasionally, people commit violent acts because they are suffering from feelings of helplessness, often caused by issues that are outside of their control. Help your child to understand that even when they are feeling helpless, they should never personally resort to violence. Let them know they can always safely discuss their feelings with you.
- Tell your child ways they are safe.
Instead of offering generalizations about your child being safe, tell them what efforts are in place to keep them safe. Explain security systems, fire alarms, seat belts, doors that lock automatically, and even first responders that are always hard at work to keep children safe at all times. Letting them know that their safety has been prioritized and is something that is constantly being guarded can help them to develop a sense of security.
Though violence is a difficult topic, reassuring your child in times of crisis can be fairly easy. Remember that little people often face very big emotions when something confusing happens and their concerns are valid. If you work with your child to help them make sense of their feelings now, it will help them to grow up and become emotionally healthy members of society!
Additional Articles on This Topic:
Useful Web Links:
Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Parents Can Do (National Institute of Health)
Helping Kids Cope with Violence in the News (Seattle Children’s Hospital)