Information Sharing

Newtown, Connecticut

Dear NPEN Friends,
These events are so painful and so fresh. What is there to do but shudder and cry.
If you happen to be listening to The Daily Wrap www.dailywrapwsj.com and host Michael Castner this evening between 6 and 9 pm, please let me know how I did. I got a call to be on the show and just finished a brief recorded interview, the basic question being what parents can do in the aftermath of such horrific tragedy.

As a ‘cheat sheet’ I looked up an Am. Psych. Asso. resource mentioned on twitter:
I shared the key points during the interview and pass them along as they may be useful to you and the parents you serve:
– Talk with and listen to your child
– Keep home a safe place
– Watch for signs of stress, fear or anxiety
– Take breaks from the news
– Take care of yourself.
That last may be the most important.
Eve Sullivan
Cambridge, Massachusetts USA
Founder, Parents Forum http://www.parentsforum.org
Council Member, National Parenting Education Network http://www.npen.org          
Council Member, International Federation for Parenting Education http://www.fiep-ifpe.fr

6 Comments to “Newtown, Connecticut”
  1. Here is some additional guidance excerpted from the Little listeners in an Uncertain World resource that we developed in response to 9/11:

    The primary role of parents is to protect children. One important way to do this is to prevent their exposure to information they cannot handle. Young children do not need to be told about traumatic events that they have no way of understanding. Keep the following in mind:

    –Turn off TV and radio news reports: don’t leave newspapers lying around.
    –Ask friends and family not to discuss the scary event around your child.
    –Maintain your child’s regular routine.

    Behaviors you might see in young children who have been exposed to a scary or traumatic event:

    –Increased clinginess, crying and whining
    –Greater fear of separation from parents
    –Increase in aggressive behavior
    –More withdrawn and harder to engage
    –Play that acts our scary events
    –Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
    –More easily frustrated and harder to comfort
    — A return to earlier behaviors, like frequent night-wakening and thumb-sucking

    What you can do:
    –Respond to your child’s need for increased attention, comfort and reassurance. This will make him feel safer sooner.
    –Pay close attention to your child’s feelings and validate them. Ignoring feelings does not make them go away.
    –Help your child identify her feelings by naming them (scary, sad, angry, etc)
    –Offer your child safe ways to express feelings, such as drawing, pretend play, or telling stories.
    — Don’t discourage your child’s play because you find it disturbing. Young children work through frightening events by reenacting them through play. If your child seems to be distressed by his play, comfort him and redirect him to another activity.
    –Be patient and calm when your child is clingy, whiny, or aggressive. He needs you to help him regain control and feel safe.
    — Answer children’s questions according to their level of understanding: “Yes, a bad thing happened but we are keeping you safe.”

    And critically:
    Tune in to your own feelings and get the support you need to cope. Managing your own emotions allows you to exude a sense of calm and that you are strong and in control, which is the most powerful way to let your child know she is safe.

  2. Thanks Claire and Eve for giving your wonderful insights and perspectives on this horrific tragedy.
    I am sure I can speak for all of us in the parenting community that this loss will haunt us always and we all send out our heartfelt prayers and thoughts to this whole community and especially those families who lost their children & family members!

    I, too, will be another ‘voice’ to help support parents at this time in a live interview on WLW-700 AM radio in Cincinnati, Ohio today. I will post that interview on my website if anyone would like to use it to support families you work with in your community.

    With sadness for all this loss today, Ann

  3. Kind friends and colleagues,

    Thank you for all this information, wisdom and most importantly connection. It is hard for us all to know where to begin and you folks are finding a way. My instincts are to find ways to volunteer for the community, but honestly also to look for ways to work effectively toward gun control.

    My husband, who has been a youth services worker, clinician and parenting educator for decades, said to me this morning that he never talks in parenting classes about gun safety. And that perhaps we should be. Does anyone already do this?

    I can’t remember where I saw it, but I think it was someone from this
    listserv who stated that gun control is a parenting issue. That feels true now.

    Kindest regards,

    Ruth Ettenberg Freeman, LCSW

  4. Hello all,

    I recall, perhaps at an earlier case of senseless gun violence, that

    when a child of any age goes to visit a friend, the parent(s) should

    check with the child’s friend’s parents – we do this anyway, right! –

    and be sure to ask: Are any guns stored in your house or garage?

    And if the answer is ‘Yes’ then the child does not go to that house.

    Period.

    So, yes, Ruth, gun control is a parenting and parenting education

    issue.

    Warm regards to all,

    Eve

    Eve Sullivan / eve@parentsforum.org / @evesullivan

  5. During my 6-week parenting class, one lesson’s focus is on keeping kids safe. We discuss the top nine dangers that kids die from. After being killed by a car, the next biggest killer of children is guns. As disturbing as this information can be, it’s essential for parents to be armed with the facts that can save their children’s lives. I use real stories to demonstrate just how quickly and easily tragedy can happen then look at ways to prevent it.

    We also discuss protecting kids from sexual abuse – another far too common threat to our children. Parents play a huge role in keeping their kids safe and I provide this information to help them do their best.

    Best Regards,

    Kathy Slattengren, M.Ed.
    President, Priceless Parenting

  6. Hello readers. Just found this forum so wanted to add my comments which are best found at the website http://www.stilllearning.org where you’ll see two essays on violence. Please visit.
    Thank you.

    Jim