Parent Guidelines for Helping Youth Cope With The Recent School Shooting Summarized from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network by Judith Gringorten

The horrific school shooting in Texas leaves us all grappling for ways to cope.

Mental health professionals, such as those in our group, will be writing helpful articles over the next weeks and months.

For the moment here is a summarized version of an article by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network on how parents can help their children and teens discuss the recent shooting.

  • Spend time talking with your kids. Help them to feel welcome to ask questions express their fears and anxieties. Provide helpful information and support. It is also ok to say you don’t have all the answers. But if a child or teen does not wish to discuss the events or how they feel, don’t push them. Let them know you are available for more discussion when they are ready.
  • Find time to have these conversations. Use time such as meals, or sitting together at other points. But not too close to bedtime.
  • Let your kids know they are always welcome to take a break from discussing the recent attacks, or from attending any sort of memorial event that may be set up.
  • Help children feel safe. Discuss what is being done in your community to promote safety. Support your children to express their concerns to you or at school.
  • Limit media exposure. Protect your child from too much media coverage about the attack. Give teens permission not to watch, and to turn the channel as they wish.
  • Be patient. Children may seem more distracted for a time and they may ask for more help with homework.
  • Watch for changes in behavior as children and teens often have trouble expressing emotion. If you become aware of behavior that seems regressive or out of sorts, raise the issue. Point out that at times certain behavior may be a way of coping. Suggest other ways the child or teen can cope, such as talking with others, exersize, music, peers, journaling.
  • Manage reminders. Help children and teens understand the possibility of reminders of past events, such as death of a friend or loved one. Also if it occurs, normalize the sensitivity to loud sounds, bus rides to school, even going to school at all. It helps to normalize these issues as they occur, and to point out they are temporary.
  • Seek professional help if any stress your child has seems to be continuing for longer than a couple of months.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, this is a summary of a longer worksheet from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

That worksheet was written also for a wider scope of children and teens who might have experienced the shooting more first hand. The complete worksheet can be found on their website.

The National Child Stress Network has a wealth of information and can be found at www.NCTSN.org

Please feel free to contact us and/ or comment on this summary. You may do so in the comment section below or by writing us directly on the contact button below.

Please also feel free to seek out our help for psychotherapy, articles and professional workshops.

Comments (3)

Hank Blumfarb LCSW

Thanks Judith for starting this conversation. This is an opportunity for parents, mental health practitioners and other concerned citizens to dialogue.
Connecting with helpful communities ( such as this one ) can serve to ameliorate some of the helplessness and loneliness that often ensues.
In solidarity
Hank

thank you for bringing this to our attention…..it’s really valuable information that can help parents and anyone dealing with children to recognize the importance of keeping the lines of communications open and getting professional help when needed.

Such timely and useful information. I’m so glad it included permission to not focus on these events if children have had enough. I imagine parents also need guidelines or helpful tips for managing their own feelings and we all do as well.

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