• Conversations with Dr. Donna

    Protecting Our Children by Helping Them Feel Safe and Secure

    Dr. Donna Housman       

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    In light of the tragic event that has recently occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, as parents and teachers we are left with the most basic and fundamental question of how do we protect our children and help them feel safe and secure – not only when they are with us but also when they are apart from us.

    Both children and adults alike are stricken with this traumatic act.  How do we help our children deal with the realities of what has happened and the potential intense emotions accompanying this tragedy?

    Although most parents have protected their preschool-age children from sharing information about this event, it is important to know that your child may find out about this through older siblings, out on the playground, overhearing parents discuss it, or through TV, and hearing this may leave them feeling frightened, confused, and threatened in terms of their own safety and security.  Therefore as parents and teachers we need to be prepared to talk about what has happened with our children.  How we talk about this traumatic event should be adjusted by age and your child’s individual temperament, for example, children under five can only take in small amounts of information.  Saying something like “A very bad thing has happened at a school but the adults, parents, and teachers are dealing with it to help resolve the problem and make sure everybody is safe”.

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