There are no words that can adequately describe the sadness we all must feel after the horrific shooting at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday morning. I spent a good amount of time this weekend watching the news reports, reading reactions on various blogs, and listening to the experts — psychologists who are trained to understand our feelings about these traumatic events and who are usually credible when trying to make sense of such a senseless act. Of course, politicians were also interviewed — generally non-experts on these subjects who should have the decency and intelligence to just shut up.
But I did read some really important advice from my own congressman, Rep. Tim Murphy, that I thought was worth sharing as we look at our own children while still trying to process what happened. Rep. Murphy is a former child psychologist from the Pittsburgh area. He was a compassionate and dedicated clinician whom I relied on, back in the day, to care for my patients who needed him. His advice demonstrates the concern he still has for our children. From PetersPatch.com:
“Don’t ignore it,” said Murphy. “It’s better to discuss it with children and for parents to discuss with each other. Over the coming days, many parents and children will be affected by the horrific level of the events. While some may be far away geographically, tragic events can hit very close to home emotionally. If your children are exhibiting signs of distress, please don’t ignore it.”
Murphy shared 10 suggestions to help adults reassure and comfort children during this difficult and confusing time:
- Ask your child what he/she heard about the incident.
- Listen to their concerns and emotions.
- Answer their questions with age appropriate information.
- Support, comfort and reassure them of their safety at home and school.
- Observe/watch for symptoms of problems: appetite, sleep, worries, aggression, anger, sadness.
- Protect them from other media exposure and information that creates more fear and problems.
- Call for other professional help for your child if needed.
- Review with school personnel how they are handling security and counseling students at school
- Pay attention to and take care of your own concerns and worries as a parent.
- Keep watch over time as concerns and symptoms may come later.
Read article by Becky Brindle in Peters Patch here.