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School shootings are a scary reality that no one wants to think about, especially when it comes to our kids. But it’s important to talk to them about what they can do to stay safe and reduce anxiety around going to school. Here are 5 tips for talking to your children about school shootings and ways to help them feel more secure.

Be Honest and Age-Appropriate

It’s important to be honest with kids but also mindful of their age and developmental stage. Keep it simple and straightforward for younger children, and provide more factual information for older kids. Let them know that there have been some scary events at schools, but that you and other trusted adults are working hard to keep them safe.

Encourage Open Communication

Encourage your children to talk about their feelings and concerns. Let them know that it’s okay to feel scared or anxious and that you’re there to support them. Listen actively to what they say, and provide them with reassurance and validation.

Create a Safety Plan

Creating a safety plan with your kids can help them feel more secure about going to school. Talk to them about what they should do if there is an emergency, like a school shooting. Identify safe places where they can go, and practice what they should do in different scenarios. This can help them feel more in control and prepared for potential emergencies.

Limit Exposure to News Coverage

News coverage of school shootings can be overwhelming and traumatic for children. It’s important to limit their exposure to news coverage of these events, especially if they are young. If they have questions, provide them with factual information and reassure them that they are safe.

Practice Self-Care

Encourage your children to take care of themselves, both physically and mentally. This can include activities such as mindfulness exercises, deep breathing, yoga, or engaging in a favorite hobby. Also, help ensure that they get enough sleep, eat nutritious foods, and engage in physical activity, as this can help reduce anxiety and improve overall mental health. Books and journals like Heaven’s Bell and Ring to Remember can also be helpful.

Talking to children about school shootings can be a difficult topic to navigate. However, by being honest, encouraging open communication, creating a safety plan, limiting exposure to news coverage, and practicing self-care, you can help your children feel more secure and prepared for potential emergencies. Remember to be patient, supportive, and understanding as you talk to your kids about this sensitive topic.

You can find more information on this topic on the National Association of School Psychologists website.