To the people of Las Vegas, our hearts are breaking with you. We send you love, healing and peace. We also promise to keep working to teach the next generation how to be better to one another. And now we'll add you to the list of reasons why and do so in your honor.
Many of us will have to talk to our kids about what happened because it's all over the news, it's all over the internet, it's all over school and it's all over our faces. As much as we want to shield them from this horror, we can't. We want them to get the information from us and not solely rely on what they're hearing in the hallways or in the media.
When talking to your kids who are in 1st grade and up, it's best to be honest and not too vague. When talking with preschoolers and kindergartners, keep your language simpler and let their questions guide you. Kids need to understand that this is not a common occurrence and if you are too vague, their imagination may construct a story that leaves them feeling scared and anxious. Limit tv time and social media until the heat has died down. Viewings of frightening images increase stress and trauma. Ask them what they heard and correct any misinformation. Present the facts and leave out the graphic details. Then, tell your child you'll answer all questions they have. After you answer their questions, point out the people who helped others and help them see the humanity that exists within the crisis. Fred Rogers once said
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Hold your kids and tell them they can come to you with any questions at any time and if they hear something that worries them, to ask you and you'll tell them the truth.
Tell your kids there is something they can do to help. Helping during traumatic events helps people, including kids, feel more in control which eases anxiety. Tell your kids they can have a lemonade stand to raise money for the families of the victims. They can draw pictures depicting peace, kindness and love to send to the hospitals where nurses and doctors cared for the people who were harmed. They can bake treats or cook dinner for their local first responders to thank them for their service. They can write letters to their state representatives expressing their concerns and calling for policy change.
Finally, please teach your kids how to be kind and have empathy. Model daily kindness at home and have them come up with their own ways to show others kindness. We know sometimes it feels like there is more hate in the world than love, but it's not true. It's just that those who hate are really loud about it so we need to be even louder in our love.
We are by no means experts on mass shootings so here are links to more tips from trusted sources:
Sending out lots of love to the world, Jami and Laura