It’s not unusual for children to become frightened or confused following high-profile acts of violence – especially school violence. The key to helping them deal with those feelings, according to Family Service & Guidance Center’s Dana Thomas, LMLP, is communication.
“Don’t wait until your child comes to you. Carve out time and start a conversation with them,” she said. “Communication is crucial to finding out how deeply they’ve been affected by what they’ve seen and heard.”
If parents still aren’t sure how their child is doing after talking with them, watching them is the best way to know if something’s wrong. Thomas encouraged parents to look for behaviors like…
- An outgoing, talkative child suddenly withdrawing
- Uncharacteristic aggression or sadness
- Refusal to participate in favorite activities
- Nightmares or changes in sleeping patterns
- An independent young child become clingy, not wanting to separate from a parent
- A pre-teen or teen begins talking about self-harm, like cutting, or even suicide
If the child talks about being scared to go to school, Thomas said parents should reassure them of what makes school a safe place, including:
- Numerous staff – teachers, administrators, school resource officers – whose job it is to keep students safe.
- Precautions to keep children safe, like locked doors, sign-in procedures, name badges, etc.
Parents should also encourage their child to tell a trusted teacher or staff member if they see a stranger in their school.
Finally, Thomas said, “These changes in behavior are natural after traumatic events, but they may not go away on their own. Parents shouldn’t hesitate to call their child’s doctor or Family Service & Guidance Center for help.”
If you’re concerned about a child you love, call us. Parents don’t have to have all the answers. Family Service & Guidance Center’s professionals are here to help. Call 785.232.5005 and ask for Admissions or click here.