Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Do We Say to Our Kids About Recent Violence?

News reports were rampant last week on the internet of a teacher's son clad in black and carrying two handguns that rampaged through a Connecticut elementary school killing 20 small children and seven adults, including his mother. The death toll is the highest from a school shooting in U.S. history since a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. At Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, two teens killed 13 people and wounded 24 in 1999.

If you are interested in seeing a map of the history of the worst mass murders in North American, you can go to

Many RVers are traveling near to and visiting with relatives this holiday season. When visiting with young family members exposed to reports of the violence, there is advice from Family Resource Center at Minneapolis Children's Hospital and Clinics for Family Information Services about how to talk with children.

The following are some guidelines for parents (and grandparents too):

· Be honest about the situation. Give your children information at their own level and put it in context. Explain that even though frightening things happen to children every once in awhile, most children go about their day with no harm. Don't describe unlikely scenarios that would unnecessarily frighten your children.

· It helps to know what information your child is getting. Monitor their exposure to television reports, and help explain what they see if they do watch television. Ask them what they are hearing at school and, if necessary, give them factual information to dispel rumors they are hearing from others.

· Limit the amount of exposure to violent movies, videos, or computer games. The impact of violence for children is cumulative.

· Understand that children of different ages react differently. Younger children may react by showing more separation anxiety when their parents leave them at daycare or school. Older children may present a rough exterior or act out aggressive behavior.

· Provide extra emotional support for your children. Review safety precautions and practice routines of going to and from school with them. Teach your children that they should go to an adult that they trust if they feel threatened in any situation.

· Avoid infecting your children's lives with your own anxiety. If you are feeling overwhelmed by anxiety caused by traumatic events, take steps to deal with your own feelings before your children are affected.

· Be aware of other areas of children's lives that may make them especially vulnerable to fears regarding violence against children. Children who have experienced a traumatic incident in the past, children who are grieving a personal tragedy, and children who are ill are all more susceptible to anxiety regarding other events.

· Children need personal reassurance. Tell them what you are doing to ensure their safety; tell your children what their daycare provider or teacher is doing to maintain safety; and tell children what they can do to enhance their own safety.

· Don't overdo it. Maintain normal routines for eating, sleeping, and play. Keep an eye open for any signs of anxiety.

(Source: Family Resource Center at Minneapolis Children's Hospital and Clinics for Family Information Services, Minneapolis, MN   Permission to reprint above for educational purposes can be found here. )

A major motivation for many to begin an RVing lifestyle is so that regular and long visits can be made to see children and grandchildren. I hope that this post gives a few tips that help during this difficult period of your youngsters' exposure to yet another very violent event in our midst.

How are the youngsters in your family holding up?


No comments:

Post a Comment

I always love to hear your thoughts.