It’s becoming an all too common thing – the school shooting in Florida this week is a stark reminder that we must talk to our kids about these horrible things. It’s never easy to talk to kids about difficult topics, but when it involves their safety it’s imperitive that we do.

Of course the schools will talk to the kids about the shootings and what to do in the event of a shooting at their school. Most schools have drills for this very purpose. And while it is scary for children to go through these practices, it could help save their life in the event of a real incident.

But these drills are scary and kids tend to avoid topics that are frightening. It’s important to discuss the school shooting so that they don’t internalize the event and develop irrational fears of it happening to them.

Many kids, whether they attended the school in question or witnessed the event on TV, will suffer from PTSD. Loud noises can be terrifying for children who are fearful of a school shooting, and sadly there are many. So, it’s important to create a dialog that can be visited on a regular basis. Here are some tips for talking to your kids about the recent school shooting.

  1. Let your kids lead the discussion – You don’t want to share too much information, so let your kid ask the questions and then answer them age appropriately.
  2. Check in regularly – Ideally, this happens every night over the evening meal, but it can take place on the way home from school or during a trip to the grocery store. Try to create a daily ritual of connecting with your kids to talk about the things that are concerning them.
  3. Teach them to be Mindful – Kids today stress out more than ever. They report more anxiety than just about any generation before them. They worry about the future and worry about the past, and miss out on the present. Traumatic events like a school shooting feeds right into that anxiety and worry. Help kids to focus on what they are doing at the moment and to not worry about a future that will probably never materialize.
  4. Reassure them – You can’t tell them with 100% certainty that a school shooting will never take place in their school, but you can reassure them that the odds of it are slim. This is also a good time to remind them that if they hear of a student planning to do something that will harm others that they should tell the principal or a teacher.

For more on how to talk to your kids about the recent school shooting, read this article on