Helping us all process the recent trauma
Advice and resources to help you be there for yourself, your kids, and the people you care about in the wake of the Texas school shooting.
Shock. Horror. Grief. Fear.
These are just some emotions that we are experiencing in reaction to the mass shooting that took place in Uvalde, Texas. Processing such a traumatic event is hard for all of us…especially since news of the shooting is everywhere. It can be particularly difficult for children. It’s OK not to feel OK.
Below are some tips and resources to help you and your loved ones as you grapple with what has happened.
Connect with others
It’s hard to wrap our minds around tragic events that feel senseless. The pain of these recent events and others like them can make us feel fearful and unsafe in our communities while doing very ordinary things like grocery shopping and attending school.
That said, we are stronger when we support one another, even when we don’t have the answers we seek. We are wired for and comforted by connection and community.
Communicate with your children about their worries and concerns
Listen to their fears, and don’t attempt to downplay them. Have an honest discussion using age-appropriate language they’ll understand. Most importantly, assure them that you will do your very best to help keep them safe.
Studies show that children who start talking about tough issues with their parents when they’re young continue to do so when they’re older, rather than relying so heavily on peers and other outside influences for answers. Make sure your kids know you will listen and be there for them.
Lean on other parents in your life. Ask about their experiences in addressing this tragedy with their kids. Not only will you learn from one another, you’ll inspire the sense of community we all seek.
Maintain your usual routines at home
We all crave a sense of stability and security, especially during times like these. Try to maintain the typical goings-on of your household, especially wellness-increasing events like family dinners and regular bedtimes.
Limit media exposure
While the desire to consume as much information as possible is a normal impulse, sources like television and social media don’t always provide the facts or values we have or want to impart to children. Make a concerted effort to reduce exposure to sources of information about the Texas shooting that may do more harm than good.
Give it time
It’s important to be aware of what we can do to care for ourselves and our loved ones to manage their stress. It’s also important to give ourselves time—it’s okay to not be okay in the near-term. In the long run, however, being proactive about mental health can instill a healthy attitude and coping mechanisms we can rely on in times like these.
Seek help if needed
For some of us, the crisis may be overwhelming. Don’t hesitate to seek advice or treatment from your primary care doctor, your child’s pediatrician or a mental health professional.
Jeffrey S. Aronowitz, D.O., MBA, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and medical director for Horizon, notes that tantrums, sudden decline in school performance, anxiety and depression are among the warning signs that indicate more help is needed for children.
For more information about mental health or to find a professional who can help, visit Horizon Behavioral Health.