Help Kids Feel Safe

The world has suddenly become a dangerous place. I keep looking out of my window. Across the street, behind my neighbor’s yard, I can see the playground at the school. I am aching to see children running and playing as usual at recess. But the playground is silent.

Our school is safe. Our neighborhood is safe. The playground is probably silent because it is not recess time. But our world has been shaken by the elementary school shooting in Connecticut. It has taken all of my willpower not to run out my front door and go get my kids out of school.

It is times like these that I wish I was at work. It is too quiet here for this stay-at-home mom, and I don’t seem to have the ability to get my work around the house finished. Or even started, for that matter.

So I write. And I think about what to tell my children, if they ask about what happened today. What I want them to know above all is that they are safe. Even in my heart of hearts, where I know I cannot always keep them safe, when you are 5 and 8 years old you have the right to feel safe.

All the teachers, administrators and staff at every school everywhere have the desire to keep their students safe. Doors are locked, drills are performed, security is tight. I know from being a teacher and a parent that this is true. But somehow, in some way, someone got through the safety procedures today, and it is likely no one’s fault. Yesterday at this time, Newtown, Connecticut was safe. No one could have imagined the terror that happened today. I am filled with horror, fear, and anger. How could this happen?

I have been praying and crying all afternoon, but as I write this blog post, I am pulling myself together for my kids.

If you are in the same spot as myself, wondering what to tell your kids, here are a couple of resources. I like this article from ABC, because it has some specific age guidelines.

Connecticut School Shooting: What to Tell Your Kids

This NBC article has some more specific ways to address older children’s concerns.

Talking to Kids About School Shootings

Even though we as parents know how scary this world can be, we can still give our children the sense of safety that they need.

UPDATED 12/15/12 I picked up both my girls from school yesterday, and we are all safe and sound. They didn’t know anything about the school shooting, and I’m keeping it that way for now. I don’t know if they will hear something from their friends or even me and my husband, but the news on the TV is staying OFF. We received a wonderful email from our principal yesterday saying our kids simply don’t need to know, and an attachment from a children’s specialist with suggestions about what to say if they do find out. They have had lock-down drills and relocation drills at our school, so I know my kids and their teachers know what to do in case of emergency. I’ve also found a great article that talks about what to say from a Christian perspective. It’s called “How and What to Share With Your Children When Tragedy Strikes.”

I continue to pray for all those families in Connecticut, as I know you do, too.


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14 Replies to “Help Kids Feel Safe”

  1. Being a stay-at-home mom is terrible on days like yesterday. There is too much quiet and not enough adult interaction to dull the situation. I couldn't stop myself from reading article after article yesterday.

    My daughters are just 2 1/2, but I had very serious, second thoughts about sending them off to school in a few years. I am a huge proponent of public schools. I think they are good for students and our communities. But yesterday? I found myself researching homeschool programs. I know I can't hold my babies tight forever, but I am so very scared to let them go now.

    I am praying for the families who lost loved ones yesterday and the healing of the teachers, staff, and kids who witnessed such horror. I'm also praying for all families with school-aged kids, who have to figure out how to talk to their kids about this tragedy and help them feel safe again. Thank you for the links and the kind, thoughtful essay you've written today.

  2. This is an excellent post. I only found out this morning (I'm in the UK, 5 hours ahead of EST) and didn't have any media on probably before it occurred. Thank you for the resources. Schools in England, at least my daughters', tend to tell it like it is in an age appropriate way. I have to get up the courage to talk to them about it first so they hear it from me and not school.

    1. If they have to know, it is best to come from you. Right now, my 5 and 8 year old still don't know, and I think that's best for now. (I updated my post with another link, if you would like some more resources.)

  3. I am thankful that my half day kindergartner was home when I found out otherwise I know I would have felt the same as you. His school went into lock in meaning no one was allowed to enter the school for the rest of the afternoon. I appreciate their efforts to comfort and keep the children safe. I talked to my little guy about it and he seemed to take it in then went on with playing. I really think it depends on your child and their personality as to how much they need to know and when and only their parent can know that 🙂

    Visiting from Siits sharefest
    My recent post When you just dont want to leave the house

  4. That's all I kept asking my husband yesterday. How do I let our kids know they are safe when they go off to school where right now I am feeling there is no where safe for them.

    Just on Wednesday my kindergartener's teacher forgot to let her know that I was at school volunteering and to not get on the bus but to go to her sister's class instead.

    I felt a bit of panic when I couldn't find her but calmed down quickly, my thought? She's at school, at least she's safe. I wouldn't feel that way just 2 days later. 🙁

    I talked to my kids about it, but I've kept the TV off. I don't want the images flooding their brains.
    My recent post My Prayers Are With The Sandy Hook Community

  5. {Melinda} Thank you for providing these links for mothers, especially the one from a Christian perspective. We as adults have to be brave enough to answer these very tough questions when asked and in a way that our kids can process them, depending on their age and maturity level. We truly have to depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

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