On May 24, 2022, we all saw the horrifying news of another mass shooting. This time, most casualties were children—innocent, sweet children going about their typical school day at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. The Uvalde, Texas, shooting claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers. And is the most deadly shooting in the United States since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults in 2012. Many children have seen the news and are now afraid to step foot in their schools. So, what can you do to help your child process what happened in Uvalde Texas?
Less than ten days ago, we posted a blog entitled ‘Help Your Child Cope With News About Gun Violence,’ following the mass shooting at a Buffalo grocery store. Sadly, we are again writing another blog about another tragedy connected to gun violence in the United States. It seems like nowhere is safe, and it is tragic for our children to see these acts of violence happening around them. What can you do to help your child process what happened in Uvalde, Texas? And how can we help our children feel comfortable even with all of these tragedies?
Help your child process what happened in Uvalde, Texas.
It’s terrifying for anyone to think they could be killed simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But especially so for children. Children shouldn’t have to feel afraid when they attend school; they shouldn’t have to do active shooter drills in their schools. But unfortunately, with tragedies like these happening more and more, our minds must think about the ‘what ifs.’ And must take action.
While I’d love to say that your children can somehow avoid the news of what happened in Uvalde, Texas, there is a significant chance that through friends, media, social media, or even family, they will learn about the horrific events that took place on May 24, 2022. So, how can you help your child process what happened in Uvalde, Texas?
When trying to help your child process what happened in Uvalde Texas, be there for them.
The most important way that you can help your child process what happened in Uvalde, Texas, is to be there for them. What is happening to the world’s youth isn’t fair, and many of us cannot understand this type of horrific violent act against young people. This is why it’s essential to be there for your child when trying to process these tragic events.
Listen to their concerns.
If your child is struggling to process the news and events, openly listen to their worries and concerns about it. You likely don’t have all the answers because none of us do. But when they can share their anxieties, it helps them process and work through the emotions and big thoughts they are struggling to deal with.
Don’t force them to go to school.
Sending your kids to school when they’re struggling with anxiety regarding what happened isn’t a great idea. Yes, you’ll want your child to get back to everyday life and routine again, but when the news of such an event is so fresh, it’s ok to let your child have some time to process it and feel comfortable. There is nothing wrong with taking a day or two off of school to work through their feelings. Just be sure that you are there to help them, or another trusted adult is there to guide them through those thoughts and feelings so that they don’t spiral into something even more significant.
Avoid brushing it off like it was no big deal.
I believe that many of us brush things off to comfort ourselves. Saying things like, “Well, that’s not even close to us.” “Don’t worry about that; it would never happen here.” “The news always reports the worst of everything.” “Stop worrying about it; it didn’t happen here.” While these might be comforting things to say to ourselves, these dismissive words will likely only alienate our children from sharing how they feel in future situations. What happened is a big deal; it’s horrifying, disturbing, and something that should make you feel uncomfortable, even though it wasn’t necessarily close to you in proximity.
Encourage them to journal their thoughts.
Writing, drawing, and doodling are unique ways to release worries and stress caught in your mind. Encourage your child to indulge in some art, writing, or music to help them process those big thoughts that they’re struggling with.
Remind them that they are safe.
As mentioned in the previous blog about helping our children cope with gun violence, really emphasize reminding your child that they are safe. Right now, they are safe. And you will never put them into any dangerous situation. While you know that sometimes dangerous things happen, you don’t need to share those thoughts with them right now.
Be honest, but don’t overshare.
When your child asks you questions regarding the event, find out what they know. Be honest in answering their questions, but avoid oversharing details. Always be mindful of your child’s age and what they should and shouldn’t know.
Remind yourself that you are processing everything too.
We are often hardest on ourselves, especially when we assume that we should have it all figured out as parents. There is no handbook on how to deal with such a horrific event. So, don’t rush or suffocate your feelings. It’s ok to feel sad, struggle with what happened, or have difficulty processing it. Be patient with yourself because your children will learn that it’s ok to take time to process their thoughts and feelings too, and it’s ok to work through these events at their own pace.