Our society does not cope well with tragedy or grief. This is surprising with the number of mass shootings we have experienced in the United States over the last 18 years. So far our community has been fortunate with a majority of the shooting occurring on the east coast. However, on Sunday that all changed. There was a mass shooting at the Gilory Garlic Festival. A six year old boy and 13 year old girl were two of the victims shot and killed in front of other children. This will have an emotional impact on the children who were present and those who attended the festival.
These events have an impact on many children. Besides hearing about the shootings and deaths on the news, these events create fear and trauma because children are afraid of losing a loved one in their own lives. Many parents are not sure how to address this subject with children. Many parents ask me how to explain a death to a child or if their child is responding appropriately to a trauma or a loss. I saw a video on CNN which address the issue of children and grief. I think it can be helpful to someone dealing with a child who is grieving.
Children who experience a trauma or the lost of a loved one need to grieve. However, they often need help with the process. Here is someone helping kids grieve in a healthy way. We need more programs like this one more mental health care.
We also need to remember children who hear about the shooting and maybe were there the day before can be traumatized. Children have very active imaginations are are having to undergo active shooter drills at school on a regular basis. A shooting this close to home can emotionally upset a child.
If your child starts to have nightmares, doesn’t want to sleep alone, doesn’t want to be left alone or becomes withdrawn or becomes more active and agitated than usual, these are signs that they may be having an emotional reaction to the shooting. Try calmly talking to them mentioning the changes you have noted and ask if something is wrong. Do not be afraid to talk about it. If you are, your child will feel there is something to be afraid of. It is okay to admit that you have a hard time talking about it too. This usually puts a child at ease.
After talking to your child, if you are concerned about what they are saying or how they are acting, schedule an appointment with a child psychotherapist who specializes in trauma. Psychotherapy is not terrible. Children today are experiencing a great deal of stress and trauma and many children benefit from psychotherapy. If your child has strep throat you would take them to the pedestrian. If your child is experiencing anxiety it is appropriate to take them to a psychotherapist.
Dr. Michael Rubino has over 20 years experience working as a psychotherapist with children and teenagers. He specializes in trauma. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.RubinoCounseling.com