Tips for Talking to Your Children Following Sparks Shooting
One important question following the tragic shooting at Sparks Middle School on Monday is how to talk to children about the traumatic event. Marriage and Family Therapist, Janice Maddox, of Family Counseling Service in Reno told us it's normal to feel overwhelmed. Her advice to parents is to take it slowly and don't push children to talk. "Checking in, asking 'How are you doing?' but not pushing too much. Not saying, ‘You have to talk.' It's going to take a little while for some of the kids to assimilate what happened," said Maddox.
Maddox says some children may be very quiet, some may be afraid. "So much of it is about helping children feel safe. Addressing the concerns they feel about safety," she said. Experts say how you talk to your children depends upon their age, whether or not they're in school and whether they've even heard about the incident. Children who were not there may hear about the shooting through social media, so parents should keep an eye on their children's emotions.
Some of the signs to watch for in children are: not sleeping well, being very quiet, acting out or having difficulty putting thoughts of what happened out of their minds. "The most important thing is just being available, checking in, finding out what their concerns are and responding to the concerns as they come up," advised Maddox.
Parents and other adults may need help coping with the tragedy. "Being a parent is frightening in general and when something like this happens it certainly brings that sense of vulnerability home," said Maddox. "Everybody has their own way of self-soothing, so that's kind of an individual path. Definitely social connections, and talking with others about how they're dealing with it is important," she said.
The Washoe County School District has advice about discussing the shooting with students on its web site and Family Counseling Service of Reno has therapists available as well.
For counseling resources, students and families may report to:
Monday, Oct. 21: Alice Maxwell Elementary School 2300 N. Rock Blvd. Sparks 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 22: Virginia Palmer Elementary School 5890 Klondike Sun Valley 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Sparks High School 820 15th Street Sparks 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
For staff only: Larry Johnson Community Center 1200 12th St. Sparks 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.