DANBURY, Conn. – Officials at the Danbury School District released a list of tips and advice about how to help children deal with the grief and questions surrounding the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“During such a tragic time, it is important that we talk with our children to help them process this information and for them to share their feelings, concerns and fears,” officials said in a message on the district website.
Children express grief in a variety of ways and talking to them about the shooting must be dealt with in a way that’s appropriate for their developmental level and personalities, according to material from the National Association of School Psychologists posted by Danbury officials. Knowing the signs of grief can help parents know how and when to respond. Signs that indicate a grieving child include emotional shock, regressive or immature behavior, explosive emotions or behavior and asking the same questions multiple times.
The materials suggest the following advice for helping children grieve:
- Allow children to talk about how they feel.
- Don’t assume all children understand or react to death in the same manner.
- Grieving is a process that takes time. Don’t force children to go back to a normal routine before they can deal with their emotions.
- Never lie to children about what happened. Children will realize if they are being lied to, which can prevent them from healing or developing positive coping mechanisms.
- Make sure to provide children with information that is appropriate for their age and comprehension levels.
- Encourage children to ask questions about what happened.
- Let children know you want to understand their feelings and what they need.
- Ensure a long-term support system is in place to follow the child throughout the grieving process.
A message on the website also encouraged parents to contact their children’s principal if they believe their son or daughter needs additional support.
More tips and advice about how to help children cope with this tragedy can be found here.