When we frequently see stories of mass shootings on TV and in our news feeds, it’s normal to feel some anxiety. In my opinion, the amount of gun violence in our country is appalling and it’s likely to be affecting us all on a conscious or unconscious level.
However, to give you some peace of mind about your particular circumstances, Jamie Howard, Ph.D., Director of the Trauma and Resilience Service at the Child Mind Institute writes that parents tend to worry about school shootings more than their children do. “Even though they’re the ones going into school every day, I just don’t hear a lot of kids worrying about it,” she says. “When children are younger, they’re more egocentric. As they get to become teenagers this changes.”
Howard goes on to write, “This developmental selfishness is a quality that often protects younger children from the kind of anxiety that the adults around them are experiencing.”
Howard also acknowledges how easily children pick up on the anxiety of their parents and encourages parents to practice stress/anxiety-reducing techniques.
If the subject comes up or if you ask your daughter about her feelings, Beth Trammell, a licensed psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Indiana University East, suggests: Prepare what you want to say on this topic. Reflect on what your child needs to know. Explore what they already know. Share what you want your child to know. Emphasize Safety. Reassure your child that you and their school are doing things to keep them safe (you may want to get specific information from her teacher).
Unless you or a member of your household has an unsecured loaded gun in their home or car, the chance of your daughter encountering gun violence is relatively slim. Research is clear that schools are among the safest places for children and the likelihood that any individual child will experience violence at school is very low. I hope you and your daughter can step into the ’23-’24 school year with confidence that she will most likely be safe.
Mershon Niesner is a Certified Life Coach and author of “The Bootmaker’s Wife” and “Mom’s Gone, Now What?” Both books are available on Amazon and locally at Sunshine Booksellers and Keep In Touch. Email your coaching questions to email@example.com. Your identity will be kept strictly confidential.