for Talking to Children About School Shootings
The effects of trauma
in children may linger and manifest themselves physically and behaviorally.
C.T. O’Donnell II, president and CEO of KidsPeace, and the clinical
experts at KidsPeace have compiled a list of tips to help parents talk
to their children about what happened and look out for future signs
1. Listen to children. Allow them to express their concerns and fears.
2. Regardless of
age, the most important issue is to reassure children of safety and
security. Tell children that you, their school, their friends and their
communities are all focused on their safety and that those around them
are working for their safety. Have discussions about those dedicated
to protecting them like police, teachers and other school officials,
neighbors and all concerned adults throughout the community.
3. When discussing
the events with younger children, the amount of information shared should
be limited to some basic facts. Use words meaningful to them (not words
like sniper, etc.). Share with them that some bad people have used violence
to hurt innocent people in the area. Discuss that we don't know exactly
by whom or why this was done, but violence has occurred. Do not go into
4. School-aged children
will ask, "Can this happen here, or to me?" Do not lie to
children. Share that it is unlikely that anything like this will happen
to them or in their community. Then reiterate how the community is focused
on working to keep everyone safe in the community.
5. Parents, caregivers
and teachers should be cautious of permitting young children to watch
news or listen to radio that is discussing or showing carnage. It is
too difficult for most of them to process. Personal discussions are
the best way to share information with this group. Also, plan to discuss
this many times over the coming weeks. Be prepared to discuss this over
the coming weeks
6. When discussing
the events with preteens and teens, more detail is appropriate, and
many will already have seen news broadcasts. Do not let them focus too
much on graphic details. Rather, elicit their feelings and concerns
and focus your discussions on what they share with you. Be careful of
how much media they are exposed to. Talk directly with them about the
tragedy and answer their questions truthfully.
7. Although this
group is more mature, do not forget to reassure them of their safety
and your efforts to protect them. Regardless of age, kids must hear
8. Be on the lookout
for physical symptoms of anxiety that children may demonstrate. They
may be a sign that a child, although not directly discussing the tragedy,
is very troubled by the recent events. Talk more directly to children
who exhibit these signs:
* Excessive worry
* Stomach aches
* Increased arguing
* Back aches
* Trouble sleeping or eating
* Loss of concentration
* Refusal to go to school
* Clinging behavior
9. Parents and caregivers
should often reassure children that they will be protected and kept
safe. During tragedies like these, words expressing safety and reassurance
with concrete plans should be discussed and agreed upon within the family
can provide the most comfort to children and teens.
10. If you are concerned
about your children and their reaction to this or any tragedy, talk
directly with their school counselor, family doctor, local mental health
professional or have your older children visit KidsPeace's teen-help
web site, www.TeenCentral.net which provides anonymous and clinically-screened
help and resources for teen problems before they become overwhelming.
KidsPeace is a 124-year-old national children’s crisis charity
dedicated to giving hope, help, and healing to children facing crisis.
With more than 50 centers nationwide, KidsPeace directly thousands of
children a day with life-saving treatment to overcome the crises of
growing up. With the help of VIP leaders including its national spokesperson
Leeza Gibbons, KidsPeace helps millions more each year through educational
outreach and awareness programs designed to help America’s kids
and parents anticipate, intervene in and master crises that can affect
any child – from disasters and personal traumas to family issues
and neglect to life-threatening depression, eating disorders, and the
many stresses of modern life. KidsPeace was named "The Outstanding
Organization" of its kind in the country by the American Association
of Psychiatric Services for Children and was called "a prototype
of what we need for all children everywhere" by the late, nationally
renowned child and family expert, Dr. Lee Salk. For information, visit
www.kidspeace.org Older children and teens can find help at www.TeenCentral.net.
Pledge of Nonviolence
must start within ourselves and in our family. Each of us, members
of the _______________________family, commit ourselves as best we
can to become nonviolent and peaceable people.
Respect Self and Others
To respect myself, to affirm others and to avoid uncaring criticism,
hateful words, physical attacks and self-destructive behavior.
To share feelings honestly, to look for safe ways to express my anger,
and to work at solving problems peacefully.
To listen carefully to one another, especially those who disagree
with me and to consider others’ feelings and needs rather than
insist on having my own way.
To apologize and make amends when I have hurt another, to forgive
others, and to keep from holding grudges.
To treat the environment and all living things, including our pets,
with respect and care.
To select entertainment and toys that support our family’s values
and to avoid entertainment that makes violence look exciting, funny
To challenge violence in all its forms whenever I encounter it, whether
at home, at school, at work, or in the community, and to stand with
others who are treated unfairly.
This is our
pledge. These are our goals. We will check ourselves on what we have
pleged once a month on _____________________for the next twelve months
so that we can help each other become more peaceable people.
member sign below:
violence, one family at a time, starting with our own.”
Courtesy of The Center for Non-Violent Education and Parenting
Family Travel Tips
pilgrimmage to Mt. Kurama, Kyoto, Japan
Photo- Jessica Miller, Reiki Master
We all know
that traveling as a family can bring you closer -- or not!
It's all about
planning the trip that's right for your family. Take a minute to
review the following tips before you leave to insure that your next
trip will be a memorable experience for the entire family.
1. Allow each
child to pack his or her own suitcase and backpack with books, crayons
and small toys.
2. Carry your own water bottle on a plane. Staying hydrated improves
your comfort during long trips.
3. Make a good impression on your host, whether you stay in a hotel
or bed and breakfast. Teach your children to shake hands, smile
and make eye contact.
4. Don't over schedule your days. Leave time to just hang out and
enjoy the moment. Take an ice cream break when sight-seeing.
5. Learn half a dozen words in the language of the country you'll
visit. It's both fun and useful. Grazie goes a long way!
6. The best (and least expensive) souvenirs are postcards. (Plus,
they come in handy for future school reports.)
7. Include children in pre-trip planning so that they are as excited
about your destination as you are.
8. Before your trip, read books or watch videos about your destination.
If you plan to visit the house of an author or historical figure,
for example, read about him or her first.
pilgrimmage to Mt. Kurama, Kyoto, Japan
Photo- Jessica Miller, Reiki Master
your child to write in a journal or make a scrapbook
10. When visiting a museum, stop in the gift shop first and buy
five postcards - then hunt for the real items or paintings in the
11. Weave your child's interests into your itinerary. For example,
if you daughter enjoys playing with dolls, take her to a museum
12. Do one amazing thing each day.
allows families to connect in ways not always possible at home.
From United Parenting Publications, March 2002
By Nancy Blakey, published in Kern County Family, June
Children are wired to move, so when we confine them on an airplane
or strap them into their seats in the car, it can feel like a prison
to those little wriggling bodies. Some people use handheld electronic
devices for amusing their children while traveling, but recent studies
have shown that parents should limit young children’s time with
them for optimal brain development. One way to get through a long
travel day with kids is to occupy their minds with interesting hands-on
projects. Place the materials for each project in a zipper-type plastic
bag and keep them handy when kids get restless. Happy Trails!
Do not underestimate this delightful version of finger puppets. It
is a wonderful way to pass on messages and stories.
What you will need:
Fingers cut from small rubber gloves
Peanut shells (broken in half from the middle—remove the nut
to leave a space for a finger)
Fine point permanent pen to draw faces and bodies
Make a face and body on the glove finger or peanut shell with the
pen, and act out an adventure or story. I began one of our favorite
finger puppet stories with: “You think I’m little now,
but I wasn’t always this way. A long time ago I was as big as
you. Let me tell you how it happened so it will never happen to you….”
This is a clay you can model into shapes and eat the art afterwards!
Store in a zipper-type plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready
What you will need:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup nonfat dry milk
2/3 cup powdered sugar
Place the peanut butter in a big bowl and work in the nonfat dry milk
with your fingers. Children love to help with this. Add the powdered
sugar and continue to work it all in with your fingers until it is
incorporated. The dough should have a play-dough-like consistency.
Add more peanut butter if it seems too dry, or powdered milk if too
These bags will stop a young child in her tracks and occupy her for
a chunk of time. These are suggestions. Each child is unique and may
find one object more interesting than another. The goal is to pique
your child’s curiosity and hold her interest. Always supervise
young children with small objects.
Place in separate bags:
· A Slinky
· Simple stopwatch
· A huge bolt with a nut to twist on and off
· Lock with a key
· Flashlight with pieces of colored plastic report covers to
put over the light
· Large magnet with metal items to attract to it
· Piece of sand paper and a few crayons to color on it
· Small hand mirror, a dry erase pen, and a paper towel for
· Beads with large holes for threading onto pipe-cleaners
· Favorite snacks