CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CBS Charlotte) — This past Friday, many Americans tuned into news stations all across the country, watching in terror as the devastation of yet another school shooting unfolded. While adults watched in shock, their children may have overheard the reports of the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting. For children especially, hearing about it or seeing images of the tragedy can be very traumatic.
All children are different, and it is important to remember that every child will react differently to a tragic event. Typical responses to an event of this magnitude are stress, anxiety, and difficulty communicating or voicing how they feel about what happened.
And even if parents think that they have shielded their children from knowing anything about this horrific tragedy, early this morning, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools placed armed police officers at many schools in the district — and children noticed.
How can you help your child feel better after a tragedy?
Children need validation and security — they need to feel safe and protected. In their world, hearing about a tragedy (especially one that involves other children,) can be terrifying. The best thing to do is to talk to your child about the incident. The main objective is to make your child feel safe and secure, to assure them that their school is a safe place, and to not allow yourself to become frightened by their fears. Ask them about their thoughts and/or feelings about what happened. Past that, normalcy will help calm your child’s fears, as routines are comforting and familiar.
If these measures are not enough to calm your child’s fears, they may need to speak to a professional. Below are some local resources that can help children cope:
1320 Harding Place
Charlotte, NC 28204
The Arches Counseling Center
7810 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy, Suite 300
Charlotte, NC 28173
Charlotte Family Counseling Center, LLC
1101 Tyvola Road
Charlotte, NC 28217
Stepping Stones Counseling Center
315 E. Worthington Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28203
Foundation For Grieving Children
–Nichole Jaworski, CBS Charlotte