Helping our Children Deal with Tragedy


As you have heard by now, in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, a gunman opened fire Friday in a Connecticut elementary school, killing 26 people ‑ 20 of them children. Our hearts go out to those families who have lost their children to such a senseless act.
This tragedy will not and cannot be kept from our children or the children in our care. Our job as early childhood educators is to help our children understand the events and manage their responses to it.
Sarah Cady Becker, Director, Williams College Children’s Center, Williamstown, Massachusetts, shared some thoughts about dealing with such tragic events;

The following is from an article titled, “Tips for Talking to Children and Youth After Traumatic Events: A Guide for Parents and Educators”
Tips for Talking to Children After a Traumatic Event

Help children understand that there are no bad emotions and that a wide range of reactions is normal. Encourage children to express their feelings to adults (including teachers and parents) who can help them understand their sometimes strong and troubling emotions.  Be careful not to scapegoat or generalize about any particular cultural or ethnic group. Try not to focus on blame.  In addition to the tragic things they see, help children identify good things, such as heroic actions, families who unite and share support, and the assistance offered by people throughout the community.
Other resources:
Talking to Children about the School Shooting
Another article on “Helping Children Cope with Tragedy Related Anxiety”
Tips for Helping Students Recovering from Traumatic Events
Caring for Kids Trauma, Disaster and Death: A Guide for Parents and Professionals

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