NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It’s common for children to have worries and fear when they hear about what happened in Uvalde, Texas. An 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in a Texas elementary school classroom and began shooting, killing at least 19 children and their two teachers. Mental Health experts at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) provided some advice for parents to help their children work through it.
As the latest school shooting dominates media feeds, CHKD Mental Health Program Director Stephanie Osler worries about constant exposure. “I do think this can be incredibly damaging over time which is why we recommend kids take breaks from their phone and during times like this I would try do that even more,” she said.
Talking with children about what happened in Texas can be tricky. Some parents may choose to not bring it up at all and Osler said that is completely appropriate. If your child has not seen or heard about it, you don’t want to worry them unnecessarily.
If a child brings it up, or if you sense something is bothering them, Osler advises you ask them about it and then let them talk about whatever they are feeling.
“Kids just at times want to be heard and need to be heard and there may not be a solution,” she said.
Reassure your child that you and others are looking out for them. You may point out school safety drills, teachers and resource officers.
Osler said to avoid making promises like “that will never happen here” and don’t discuss the topic right before bedtime.
“When something like this happens you would expect a child to have some fears and some worries; maybe they are not sleeping as well, maybe their eating habits have changed a little bit,” she said.
If the behavior lasts longer than four weeks, call your pediatrician.
CHKD also provided these links with more resources for parents:
- Talking to children about violence
- Sesame Street in Communities: Resources for families directly affected by violence
- NCTSN Parent guidelines for helping youth after the recent shooting