Talking To Kids About School Violence

With the recent school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut both adults and children are aware and thinking about violence at schools. We have heard many parents say they don’t want to send their child to school and kids are worried about it too.

When significant acts of violence occur, it is important to be aware that some children may react strongly to these types of events. For parents, teachers and therapists it is important to be able to talk to children about their thoughts and feelings.

Here are some tips and guidelines to help be prepared to talk to children about school violence:

  • Be honest. Give children information they can understand in their own level. Help them to understand that while bad things happen to children sometimes, most children will not get harmed while at school.
  • Limit exposure your child has to violent video games, movie, TV, computer and books. Research shows the violent information has a cumulative effect in children. Also do not describe scenarios that may further frighten your child.
  • Monitor what information your child is getting or already has about the recent events. If they are hearing rumors or have wrong information, help them to understand the facts.
  • Be there for your child. Listen to what they have to say. Reassure your child is safe and that you and their school is working hard to keep them safe.
  • Work to manage your own fear and anxiety. Avoid letting your child take on your worries.
  • Give your child information on how to maintain safety through their actions. Provide them with information on how their school works to keep them safe.
  • Try to maintain normal activities and routines.

When difficult situations such as these occur, it can be hard to manage our own worries and those of our children. It is important to remember that school shootings and other acts of violence are very rare.

Increase your child’s confidence.

Many parents ask “how can I make sure my children are confident and successful?”. At the core of a confident person is the belief that “I am able”, “I can do this” or “I am good”. One of the keys to raising confident children is to help children to develop a sense of self-efficacy.

In simple terms, you build self-efficacy through accomplishing things and doing things on your own. To help build this, never do for a child what they can do for themselves. Never is a strong word but if you err closer to never than always you are teaching your child that they can do for themselves, they are capable and they can figure their own problems out.

Children are always making decisions that shape their personality. Decisions become beliefs. Children are making decisions about:

  • Who they are (good or bad, capable or not capable)
  • What the world is like (safe or threatening)
  • What they need to do to survive or to thrive (based on decisions above)

My challenge to you: Try to draw out children’s own sense of resourcefulness. Encourage them to take risks and try things on their own so they can build up a reserve of confidence from all of their successes!

If you have concerns about your child’s self esteem play therapy with a trained professional can help you and your child learn to foster positive self esteem.