Parenting & Families

Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School

There is no consolation for the loss of a child. It is the worst experience possible. We can just be present and support those who grieve. When someone strikes out like this and does the unthinkable, crossing a line in our culture, we realize that they are projecting out their inner world, by creating a symbol, which tragically in this case was a small kindergarten class, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This should give us pause to look at and reflect on our culture. A culture filled with reality television, virtual worlds, violent video games and all manner of impersonal activities.

Because we are social animals, these kinds of activities teach us a lack of empathy, and compassion for others when ironically, empathy can be easily taught. This situation makes us realize, we must reconsider our societal models for recreation. For the killing of little children, should be a wake-up call for all responsible adults.

Nothing happens in a vacuum and certainly this shooter displayed unhealthy behavior somewhere to someone.
If you see behavior like this, it is important to report it. If you’re a therapist to someone like this, it is important to report it. The children who have survived will feel disempowered and one thing that we can do for them is to help them reach out and act in service to those who are also grieving.

Parents of these children should look for signs of stress including:

• Loss of appetite
• Regressive behavior
• Clinging
• Attachment issues
• Not being able to sleep at night
• Changes of temperament
• School performance
• Lack of concentration
• Irritability
• Sadness

Know your child and watch your child. Parents should partner with schools. There should be metal detectors and adult protection and supervision in every school, including school patrolmen. We’re living in a new normal. Parents and teachers have to respond accordingly. We have to build-up our healthcare system which is badly under-funded.

Parents can talk to their children. Explain that this situation is rare and that schools are taking precautions to see that this never happens again. Encourage children to express their feelings. Reassure them. Monitor media. Have the school administrators assure the children that they’re making the school safe.

Teach children how to cope with violence. For example, one of the kindergarten children responded immediately, when the shooting started, by leading his fellow students, out of the room.

Teach your children the danger of guns, so if they see one, they will know how to react. Most importantly, schools and parent associations need to offer students and parents, alike, self-control courses, stress management courses, impulse control courses, and stress reduction techniques.

The school should do things in memoriam for the children that died, so that the children left behind will feel that they are doing something positive, maybe by which to remember their friends. This gives them a way to work through their grief, actively, and gives them therefore, a renewed sense of self-control.

Some children respond by being afraid. Others may react in just the opposite way with denial, cynicism and apathy. Pay attention to your child and look for signs of change, so that you know how to intervene and remediate. Always be honest with your children, by giving them age-appropriate, clear and real information. Trust is based on experience. And, if children learn to trust their parents, they will learn to trust themselves and their outer world.