By David Horsager
Author of The Trust Edge
If you're a parent with school-age children, the last few days have been heavy, to say the least. The tragic events in Newtown, Conn. have once again raised the question: How safe are our schools? And it's not only the adults that wonder. Our kids feel this uncertainty, too.
Despite recent events, schools remain one of the safest places for kids. But that can be a tough fact for them to accept if school no longer feels safe. If your children are asking questions, here are some things you can do to restore their trust and confidence.
1. Kids want reassurance.
For many children, what happened in Newtown is the first time they've heard of a school shooting. And with anything new or unexpected, your kids will be confused. Be prepared to answer repeated questions as your kids try to understand what happened. Do your best to listen and be clear with your kids by answering their questions in age-appropriate ways.
2. Kids need your compassion.
Sometimes when scary things happen, it can be hard for kids to talk about their feelings. As a parent, do your best to show compassion. Take your cues from their behavior and do what you can to treat the "symptoms." Your goal is to help your kids feel safe, and sometimes the best way to accomplish that is by showing as opposed to talking about it.
3. Kids want honesty.
Kids are smart, and if you want them to feel safe at school, you need to answer their questions honestly. Again, your answers will vary based on age, but for kids to once again trust their schools, they need to feel like they have the real answers to their questions.
4. Kids want to know that adults know what to do.
One learning thus far from Newtown is how well teachers and other staff responded to a terrifying and confusing situation. They followed the lock-down procedures and did everything in their power to protect the kids in their classrooms. Check with your local schools and get a copy of their safety policy. With this information, you can answer your kids' questions and show them that their schools have plans in place to help protect.
5. Kids want to hear from adults they trust, not the news.
It may be tempting to let your kids watch the news with you. But they'll be better served by getting their information from you. Often the details in news reports are not age appropriate, especially for younger children. Added to that, the ongoing speculation about events can lead to increased anxiety. Take this opportunity to connect with your kids. By becoming their primary source for news, you can filter out the most upsetting aspects of the story while still helping your kids feel safe at school.
6. Kids gain confidence from consistency.
One of the biggest confidence builders for kids is consistency. By maintaining a normal routine, you're reassuring kids that things are okay. Kids may feel overwhelmed, but you can adjust their schedules and commitments to match how they're feeling. But when possible, stick to what kids know. If you've always dropped them off at the curb, don't suddenly start walking them to the school door unless your kids request it.
We can trust our schools and the people who work there to keep our kids safe. Yes, bad things could happen, and it seems even worse when there's no obvious explanation for why they happen. However, we're in a position to reassure our kids and help them feel safe if we take the time to listen, honestly answer their questions, and do everything we can to restore their trust in their teachers and schools.Related Links: Buy The Trust Edge
How to Deal with Girl Bullies
Like Tips on Healthy Living on Facebook