Returning to School Might Be The Best Alternative for Your Children Following the School Shooting

We are all shocked, saddened, and in disbelief about the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday. We can all relate to being in a school setting, and for the majority of us, elementary school was a place of fun, friends, learning and laughter. This memory was shattered on Friday by these unimaginable events.

As parents, our normal reaction is to want to protect our children. Many of you might be wondering if it would be safe to send your children back to school on Monday.

It is important to recognize that, fortunately, this type of incident is extremely rare in our schools nationwide. By not sending your children to school on Monday, you might be sending them a message that they can no longer feel safe in the environment in which they spend most of their waking hours. The reality is that disrupting their routine might actually induce more stress and fear in your children.

As shocking as this event is, your children need to feel that school is a place in which they can be children, free of fear and uncertainty.

Keep these things in mind:

Routine is key to having children feel safe because they know what they can be expected and what is expected of them. This is going to be especially important now. They need to know that they are safe to take part in their activities of daily living, including attending school.

Your children will follow your lead. If you are hysterical, enraged, or hyper-emotional in front of them, they may feel that they need to be concerned for their own welfare.  It is okay to show emotion, but please remain calm. Your children need you to set an example of how to cope with unexpected and unthinkable events.

Reassure them.  If your children are scared or fearful of returning to school, it is best to reassure them and encourage them to return to classes as soon as possible. Seeing that everything is moving in a typical manner may be comforting and reassuring for them. You can let the school counselor know that your child expressed concerned about what happened in Connecticut so that school personnel can be aware of this and help you determine if a more structure intervention might be warranted.

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4 Responses to “Returning to School Might Be The Best Alternative for Your Children Following the School Shooting”

  1. Becky   July 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    How rare is it actually? I feel like almost every day I read the paper and there’s been another shooting. Are there certain months when this is more prevalent?

  2. Jackie   July 2, 2013 at 10:13 am

    My family was held up in a bank robbery a few years ago. My daughter was 10 and she had nightmares for about a year afterwards. We finally took her to a therapist and it seemed to help.

  3. Gayle   June 25, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I just read your other post on how to help children cope after a shooting. My son is 4 years old and so too young to completely understand what happened. At this point, it is much harder for me as a parent to let him go to school knowing that something like this could potentially happen. What is your advice for parents? I sit at home sometimes with my car keys in my hands ready to go and pull him out of school?

  4. Michael   June 16, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    This is extremely practical advice when dealing with such a traumatic incident. While we all hope that our kids will never be witness to such a dreadful incident the way in which we act after the event will help our children to deal with the after effects.