The shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, shook us all to the core. While we continue to grapple with our own feelings of sadness, anger and anxiety, we need to keep a watchful eye on our children.
The pervasiveness of the media means that many kids were exposed to news about this school shooting and the 26 lives lost, including 20 young children. In the immediate aftermath, there was plenty of advice about how to talk with and comfort your children. But pediatricians and psychologists say it’s also important to monitor your kids in the weeks and months following this tragedy.
The American Psychological Association reminds parents to watch for signs of fearfulness, shock, anger, grief and anxiety in their kids. Children may have trouble sleeping or concentrating on schoolwork; they may have big changes in their appetite.
Encourage children to talk to you about any feelings they may have; suggest that they express themselves in writing or with art. Their feelings are normal and should begin to disappear in a few months. If they don’t, or if you find that your child’s anxiety is interfering with his or her life, consult with your pediatrician or a psychologist specializing in children.
For more advice on helping children through tragedies like this, read our list of helpful resources.