Monday, July 23, 2012
Be able to talk to your children about the Colorado movie shooting
The horrific news of the Aurora, Colo., movie shooting is everywhere. It’s the worst shooting this country has seen since the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and has stirred up memories of Columbine, which occurred not far away.
These high-profile crimes are always hard on children. Add in the fact that the Aurora shooting that left 12 dead and approximately 40 injured occurred at the much-anticipated blockbuster movie the “The Dark Knight Rises,” and you’ve got the potential for some very stressful times for children.
While some parents might consider shielding their children from news of this heinous crime, it is unlikely they will be successful.
And if you don’t talk about it — and children hear about it or see it somewhere else — they make up their own explanations for what they have seen and become scared and traumatized.
As hard as it may seem, you should use these situations as an opportunity to talk to your children, especially those 6 years old and up, because they no longer worry about monsters under the bed — they are more concerned with the real-life scenarios like the storms, terrorism and car crashes that they see on the TV news.
Here are some tips to help you talk to your children:
• Encourage them to talk about how they feel, and ask questions.
• Answer questions straightforwardly. If you don’t have the answer, admit it and try to get it for them later.
• Acknowledge their fears, but reassure them that these incidents are not common, and they are safe.
• Point out the positive. The police officers who responded to the Aurora shooting and brought injured people to the hospital were heroes. So were the 9/11 firefighters.
• Watch the news with your children, and talk to them about what they see. If you don’t, they could become confused and frightened.
We live in a great country, but unfortunately there will always be incidents like what happened in Aurora, Columbine and Virginia Tech.
Having open dialogue with your children about these tragedies is important, and in the end will help them understand the world around them.
Alice Facente is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org.