For the more than 3,000 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Wednesday’s mass shooting was terrifying and life-changing. But what of the tens of millions of other children, in schools across the country, who have since heard about what happened and now struggle with their own feelings of fear, confusion and uncertainty?
For their parents and teachers, we’ve put together a quick primer with help from the National Association of School Psychologists and Melissa Reeves, a former NASP president and co-author of its PREPaRE School Crisis Prevention and Intervention curriculum.
First, pay attention. Not just to what kids say, but what they do.
“Watch for clues that [children] may want to talk, such as hovering around while you do the dishes or yard work,” NASP recommends. “Some children prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet.”
For younger children, drawing or imaginative play can help them give voice to their fear, anxiety and other difficult feelings.
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