Thanks to the digital age, there is information at our fingertips. Unfortunately, not all of this information is positive, and even very young children are exposed to negative media. If your preschool-aged child comes to you with questions about school violence, you may be curious about the best way to handle it. Here are some tips and guidelines for helping your child feel safe and at ease during such a conversation.
Consider Your Child’s Age
Very young children are especially curious about the world around them, and they have a desire to learn as much as possible. When early elementary school kids ask you about school violence, the best way to address it is briefly with very simple information. You do not have to provide a great deal of detail as this will likely confuse a preschooler even more. Instead, try to remember your child’s age and unique comprehension, and come up with an answer that will satisfy his or her curiosity without fueling more fear.
Listen Before You Speak
Conversations like this can feel uncomfortable for parents. After all, nobody wants to think about school violence when such young and innocent children are involved. However, it is important that you take the time to thoroughly hear your preschooler’s thoughts and concerns. These may be an indicator of a problem he or she is having at school, but more often than not, they are a reflection of your child’s fears. Listen carefully and be sure to address his or her questions and concerns directly. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if need be.
Reassure Your Child’s Safety
The first thing you should do after listening to your preschooler’s concerns is assured his or her safety. Although the media leads us to believe that a school is a dangerous place with its high-profile coverage of tragic events, the truth is that most schools are quite safe. Remind your child of the various protections in place. For example, “Your teacher watches very closely to make sure nothing bad happens to you.” With this kind of reassurance, there is no doubt that your child will breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Validate Your Child
After you have reassured your child that he or she is safe, it is important to validate his or her feelings. “I understand you feel scared or sad” is a great way to start your response. Give them the opportunity to explain why they feel this way. Oftentimes, children this age do not need much explanation or information from you. They just want you to know how they feel, and they want you to reassure them that it’s okay to feel that way and that they will be safe at school.
School violence can be tragic, and unfortunately, small children are often exposed to the news at home or out in public. There is a very good chance that your child will experience fear or sadness, and in some cases anger, and ask questions about these horrible events. Using the guidelines above, you can validate your child’s feelings and help him or her feel safe throughout each school day.