How to calm your child's fears about school violence
Posted April 20, 2016
Violence is all around us -- an unfortunate reality. And this reality is especially damaging to children. Kids are constantly exposed to news stories about terrible acts of cruelty, war and school violence; and social media only spreads this fear. Children can easily feel overwhelmed by all the emotions they feel after such incidents occur.
But you can help your child more effectively work through their fear so they can enjoy going to school and continue to have a happy childhood. Here are some tips to help calm your child’s fears about school violence:
Ask your kids about what they see and hear
It’s important to ask your kids what they feel about the things they witness on a daily basis. If they see a violent TV show, ask them how they feel about seeing so many people get injured or killed. Does it bother them? Do they think it’s nothing out of the ordinary? If you talk to your kids, you’ll get a better understanding of their ideas about violence.
Ask them what they are reading on social media. Are their friends posting things about shootings that have occurred? What does your child think of those posts? Social media plays a big role in your child’s education, so it’s important to know what information they are consuming.
Limit their exposure to violence
Whenever possible, limit your child’s exposure to violent acts. This could mean opting for happier, less violent movies and TV shows, skipping the evening news for family time or being more aware of the video games your child is playing. It has been shown that violent video games cause desensitization to violence. By limiting their exposure to these things, you can help your child deal with the violence they do encounter, because they won’t feel as though they’ve become “numb” to it.
Does your child fear going to school because of the violence that they have seen in the media? Do they fear for their safety when they go to class? This can be very difficult to overcome. Make sure your child understands that their teacher is there to protect them. Also, explain to them that even though these events are talked about over and over in the media, your child is very unlikely to ever experience that level of violence.
Also, make sure your kids know they can always speak up if they are not feeling safe. If they are with you, they can tell you. If they are at school, they can tell a teacher, the principal or another safe adult. If they are alone and something happens, make sure they know how to call the police. Give them all the tools you can to make them feel empowered and safe.
Watch your own behavior
Do you watch the news and talk to your spouse in front of them about all the violence you see? When you have a disagreement with your spouse or child, do you settle it with calm communication, or do you yell or get angry? Your child will emulate whatever they witness from you. Be very cautious of how you respond to confrontation and violence in front of your child. Teach them ways to effectively manage their anger and their fear.
The prevalence of violence in schools is horrible. But that doesn’t mean that your child should have to fear for their safety at school or lash out in violence toward others. Start talking to your kids today about their fears and anxieties, and give them the resources they need to feel safe and protected.