Helping parents and children deal with the Dec. 14 school shooting

December 14, 2012
A statement from University Chief Wellness Officer Bernadette M. Melnyk (

Today’s school shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut is a tragedy that has reportedly left 20 young children and six adults dead. Anytime such a shocking and tragic event happens, it creates stress and anxiety for parents and children across the country. I thought it might be helpful to provide some tips for those of you who have children regarding how to talk to them about this event.

  • For young children, it is good to only provide answers to questions they are asking and not to overwhelm them with too much detail.
  • Help your children to express how they are feeling; young children will often talk about how they feel by talking about what their dolls or stuffed animals are feeling.
  • Ask your children, “What is the scariest thing about this for you?
  • Do not expose your children to visual images in the newspapers or on television that are potentially terrifying.
  • Tell your children that what they are feeling is normal and that others feel the same way.
  • Decrease anxiety for your child by telling them you and other adults will be there to help them through this time and keep them safe.
  • Use this event to help your children work on how to cope with stressful events.
  • As a parent, remember that emotions are contagious. If you are highly upset or anxious, there is a good chance that your child will feel the same way. So, please talk with someone about how you are feeling. Your child will most likely stay calm if you stay calm.

The attached handout also may help you and your children with this stressful event. Please feel free to pass it on to anyone who may benefit from the information.

Please keep all of the victim’s families in your prayers.


Download addition helpful information here.