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   Family Guidance 

10 Tips for Talking to Children About School Shootings

The effects of trauma in children may linger and manifest themselves physically and behaviorally. C.T. O’Donnell II, president and CEO of KidsPeace, and the clinical experts at KidsPeace have compiled a list of tips to help parents talk to their children about what happened and look out for future signs of distress:

1. Listen to children. Allow them to express their concerns and fears.

2. Regardless of age, the most important issue is to reassure children of safety and security. Tell children that you, their school, their friends and their communities are all focused on their safety and that those around them are working for their safety. Have discussions about those dedicated to protecting them like police, teachers and other school officials, neighbors and all concerned adults throughout the community.

3. When discussing the events with younger children, the amount of information shared should be limited to some basic facts. Use words meaningful to them (not words like sniper, etc.). Share with them that some bad people have used violence to hurt innocent people in the area. Discuss that we don't know exactly by whom or why this was done, but violence has occurred. Do not go into specific details.

4. School-aged children will ask, "Can this happen here, or to me?" Do not lie to children. Share that it is unlikely that anything like this will happen to them or in their community. Then reiterate how the community is focused on working to keep everyone safe in the community.

5. Parents, caregivers and teachers should be cautious of permitting young children to watch news or listen to radio that is discussing or showing carnage. It is too difficult for most of them to process. Personal discussions are the best way to share information with this group. Also, plan to discuss this many times over the coming weeks. Be prepared to discuss this over the coming weeks

6. When discussing the events with preteens and teens, more detail is appropriate, and many will already have seen news broadcasts. Do not let them focus too much on graphic details. Rather, elicit their feelings and concerns and focus your discussions on what they share with you. Be careful of how much media they are exposed to. Talk directly with them about the tragedy and answer their questions truthfully.

7. Although this group is more mature, do not forget to reassure them of their safety and your efforts to protect them. Regardless of age, kids must hear this message.

8. Be on the lookout for physical symptoms of anxiety that children may demonstrate. They may be a sign that a child, although not directly discussing the tragedy, is very troubled by the recent events. Talk more directly to children who exhibit these signs:

* Headaches
* Excessive worry
* Stomach aches
* Increased arguing
* Back aches
* Irritability
* Trouble sleeping or eating
* Loss of concentration
* Nightmares
* Withdrawal
* Refusal to go to school
* Clinging behavior

9. Parents and caregivers should often reassure children that they will be protected and kept safe. During tragedies like these, words expressing safety and reassurance with concrete plans should be discussed and agreed upon within the family can provide the most comfort to children and teens.

10. If you are concerned about your children and their reaction to this or any tragedy, talk directly with their school counselor, family doctor, local mental health professional or have your older children visit KidsPeace's teen-help web site, www.TeenCentral.net which provides anonymous and clinically-screened help and resources for teen problems before they become overwhelming.

KidsPeace is a 124-year-old national children’s crisis charity dedicated to giving hope, help, and healing to children facing crisis. With more than 50 centers nationwide, KidsPeace directly thousands of children a day with life-saving treatment to overcome the crises of growing up. With the help of VIP leaders including its national spokesperson Leeza Gibbons, KidsPeace helps millions more each year through educational outreach and awareness programs designed to help America’s kids and parents anticipate, intervene in and master crises that can affect any child – from disasters and personal traumas to family issues and neglect to life-threatening depression, eating disorders, and the many stresses of modern life. KidsPeace was named "The Outstanding Organization" of its kind in the country by the American Association of Psychiatric Services for Children and was called "a prototype of what we need for all children everywhere" by the late, nationally renowned child and family expert, Dr. Lee Salk. For information, visit www.kidspeace.org Older children and teens can find help at www.TeenCentral.net.


Family Pledge of Nonviolence

Making peace must start within ourselves and in our family. Each of us, members of the _______________________family, commit ourselves as best we can to become nonviolent and peaceable people.

To Respect Self and Others
To respect myself, to affirm others and to avoid uncaring criticism, hateful words, physical attacks and self-destructive behavior.

To Communicate Better
To share feelings honestly, to look for safe ways to express my anger, and to work at solving problems peacefully.

To Listen
To listen carefully to one another, especially those who disagree with me and to consider others’ feelings and needs rather than insist on having my own way.

To Forgive
To apologize and make amends when I have hurt another, to forgive others, and to keep from holding grudges.

To Respect Nature
To treat the environment and all living things, including our pets, with respect and care.

To Play Creatively
To select entertainment and toys that support our family’s values and to avoid entertainment that makes violence look exciting, funny or acceptable.

To Be Courageous
To challenge violence in all its forms whenever I encounter it, whether at home, at school, at work, or in the community, and to stand with others who are treated unfairly.

This is our pledge. These are our goals. We will check ourselves on what we have pleged once a month on _____________________for the next twelve months so that we can help each other become more peaceable people.

Pledging family member sign below:

_______________________________ _______________________________

_______________________________ _______________________________

_______________________________ _______________________________

“Eliminating violence, one family at a time, starting with our own.”

Courtesy of The Center for Non-Violent Education and Parenting
(213) 484-6676

Family Travel Tips
Family pilgrimmage to Mt. Kurama, Kyoto, Japan
Family pilgrimmage to Mt. Kurama, Kyoto, Japan
Photo- Jessica Miller, Reiki Master

We all know that traveling as a family can bring you closer -- or not!

It's all about planning the trip that's right for your family. Take a minute to review the following tips before you leave to insure that your next trip will be a memorable experience for the entire family.

1. Allow each child to pack his or her own suitcase and backpack with books, crayons and small toys.
2. Carry your own water bottle on a plane. Staying hydrated improves your comfort during long trips.
3. Make a good impression on your host, whether you stay in a hotel or bed and breakfast. Teach your children to shake hands, smile and make eye contact.
4. Don't over schedule your days. Leave time to just hang out and enjoy the moment. Take an ice cream break when sight-seeing.
5. Learn half a dozen words in the language of the country you'll visit. It's both fun and useful. Grazie goes a long way!
6. The best (and least expensive) souvenirs are postcards. (Plus, they come in handy for future school reports.)
7. Include children in pre-trip planning so that they are as excited about your destination as you are.
8. Before your trip, read books or watch videos about your destination. If you plan to visit the house of an author or historical figure, for example, read about him or her first.

Family pilgrimmage to Mt. Kurama, Kyoto, Japan
Family pilgrimmage to Mt. Kurama, Kyoto, Japan
Photo- Jessica Miller, Reiki Master

9. Encourage your child to write in a journal or make a scrapbook
10. When visiting a museum, stop in the gift shop first and buy five postcards - then hunt for the real items or paintings in the museum.
11. Weave your child's interests into your itinerary. For example, if you daughter enjoys playing with dolls, take her to a museum of dolls.
12. Do one amazing thing each day.

Travel allows families to connect in ways not always possible at home.
From United Parenting Publications, March 2002





By Nancy Blakey, published in Kern County Family, June 2007

Children are wired to move, so when we confine them on an airplane or strap them into their seats in the car, it can feel like a prison to those little wriggling bodies. Some people use handheld electronic devices for amusing their children while traveling, but recent studies have shown that parents should limit young children’s time with them for optimal brain development. One way to get through a long travel day with kids is to occupy their minds with interesting hands-on projects. Place the materials for each project in a zipper-type plastic bag and keep them handy when kids get restless. Happy Trails!

Finger Fellows
Do not underestimate this delightful version of finger puppets. It is a wonderful way to pass on messages and stories.
What you will need:
Fingers cut from small rubber gloves
Peanut shells (broken in half from the middle—remove the nut to leave a space for a finger)
Fine point permanent pen to draw faces and bodies
Make a face and body on the glove finger or peanut shell with the pen, and act out an adventure or story. I began one of our favorite finger puppet stories with: “You think I’m little now, but I wasn’t always this way. A long time ago I was as big as you. Let me tell you how it happened so it will never happen to you….”

Edible Clay
This is a clay you can model into shapes and eat the art afterwards! Store in a zipper-type plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use.
What you will need:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup nonfat dry milk
2/3 cup powdered sugar
Place the peanut butter in a big bowl and work in the nonfat dry milk with your fingers. Children love to help with this. Add the powdered sugar and continue to work it all in with your fingers until it is incorporated. The dough should have a play-dough-like consistency. Add more peanut butter if it seems too dry, or powdered milk if too sticky.

Intrigue Bags
These bags will stop a young child in her tracks and occupy her for a chunk of time. These are suggestions. Each child is unique and may find one object more interesting than another. The goal is to pique your child’s curiosity and hold her interest. Always supervise young children with small objects.
Place in separate bags:

· A Slinky
· Simple stopwatch
· A huge bolt with a nut to twist on and off
· Lock with a key
· Flashlight with pieces of colored plastic report covers to put over the light
· Kaleidoscope
· Large magnet with metal items to attract to it
· Harmonica
· Piece of sand paper and a few crayons to color on it
· Small hand mirror, a dry erase pen, and a paper towel for erasing
· Beads with large holes for threading onto pipe-cleaners
· Favorite snacks

· Legos


Ruth Ratna Handy, LCSW
(818) 834-5925


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