Over the course of the last few weeks, reports of mass violence and shootings have plagued the news. In the aftermath of a mass shooting, it is common for people to experience a vast range of emotions, including anger, confusion, sadness and fear. You may feel anger at the person wielding the gun, confusion over the person’s motives, sadness for those who were hurt or killed and fear of yourself or a loved one being in the wrong place someday in the future.

These events can be especially difficult on children and many parents worry about how news of these tragedies will affect their children. Below are a few tips provided by Mental Health America to help the children in your life cope with these events:

  • Encourage children to talk about their concerns and to express their feelings. Some children may be hesitant to initiate such conversation, so you may want to prompt them by asking if they feel safe. Encourage them to express their feelings through talking, drawing or playing.
  • Validate the child’s feelings. Do not minimize a child’s concerns.
  • Talk honestly about your own feelings regarding violence. It is important for children to recognize they are not dealing with their fears alone.
  • Discuss the safety procedures that are in place at your child’s school, in your neighborhood and in other public places.
  • Create safety plans with your child. Help identify which adults your child can talk to if he or she feels threatened. Also ensure that your child knows how to reach you in case of crisis.
  • Keep the dialogue going and make safety a common topic in family discussions rather than just a response to an immediate crisis.
  • Seek help when necessary. If you are worried about a child’s reaction or have ongoing concerns about his or her behavior or emotions, contact your pediatrician or a mental health professional.

Talking about these events isn’t easy but it can help a child feel safer and more secure. For those who feel too overwhelmed or unable to cope, it’s essential to reach out to a mental health professional. If you or someone you know needs help visit https://oaksintcare.org/services/ or call our Access Center 1-800-963-3377 to learn more about our services.