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Dedicated to Helping the Healing after the Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary

Talking to Your Kids About Tragedy from Empowering Parents

The shock of this latest school shooting is roaring through the media; we wanted to offer some ways to help your family cope with it in the coming days.

1. Get information, but limit exposure to extended news coverage or images of the events.  We would recommend limiting media exposure over the weekend.   It is important for everyone to stay connected and informed, but watching images and hearing the news over an extended period of time isn’t good for anyone.  Seeing images of the school shooting will be disturbing to many kids, especially younger ones.  Turn off the TV and find other things to focus on.

2. Model healthy expression of emotions.  As upsetting as this story is, it is important to remember that our children will take their lead from watching the grownups in their lives.  So approaching this quietly and gently will be more effective and hopefully help relieve some of the fear and anxiety they may be feeling.  It is ok to be upset.  If your children ask, you might say something like this: “I’m okay.  I’m feeling sad about what happened, but we are okay.”  Spend some extra time taking care of each other this weekend.  Be aware of how you talk about this tragedy.  Children often overhear conversations between adults.  Keep this in mind as you are discussing the events with other friends and family members.

3. Open the door to open communication.  Listen to your kids’ concerns about the school shooting and what they are most afraid of. Reassure them that they are safe and let them know that incidents like this are rare. Acknowledge that sometimes bad things happen, but remind your kids of all the people who are working to keep them safe.  If your child doesn’t seem to know about the shooting, you might still watch for signs that they are being affected by it and be prepared to talk about it as needed.  Let them know they can come to you with questions.  If your children seem anxious or upset, support them in finding something comforting or familiar to do during the weekend.

4. Reach out for more help and information as needed.  Talk with your child’s teacher, principal, school psychologist or school counselor about your concerns.  School officials are trained in helping children cope with tragedy and will be able to address this in context. Keep in close communication with the school as the week continues.  There may be an opportunity for communities to do something to help in response to this tragedy.  Sometimes the most helpful thing we can do in times like these is support each other and model open communication.

The following link can be helpful for more information: http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/coping-with-disaster/helping-children-handle-disaster-related-anxiety

Holly Fields has worked with children with emotional and physical disabilities for more than 15 years in the home, at school, and in rehabilitation settings, as well as therapeutic riding programs.  She has been with Legacy Publishing Company on the Parental Support Line since 2011. Holly has a Masters Degree in Special Education. She has two adult children, two rescue dogs and one cat.

Read more: http://www.empoweringparents.com/blog/communication/connecticut-school-shooting-talking-with-your-kids-about-tragedy/#ixzz2F5JUyTVZ

Remembering Olivia

It was suggested that we remember a victim as a part of healing. Concentrating on recovery instead of the negative aspect of the perpetrator. I choose Olivia Engel as my remembering girl. 
Olivia Engel , 6 - Olivia Engel, whose favorite colors were purple and pink, would say grace for the family before dinner every night, reports the New Haven Register. Engel did well in reading and math at school and she also took classes in art, swimming, ballet and hip hop. Her favorite toy was a stuffed lamb. “I can not stop thinking about her beautiful smile, her sweet voice, and her infectious laugh,” wrote Julie Guastello Pokrinchak on a Facebook page set up by her fam

Touching Video- Remembering

Christmas Eve 2012. My heart hurts for Newton. I am wishing comfort and peace to them for the new year.

Don't Tell Me by Judy Walker in Memory of Shane

Please don't tell me you know how I feel,

Unless you have lost your child too,
Please don't tell me my broken heart will heal,
Because that is just not true,
Please don't tell me my son is in a better place,
Though it is true, I want him here with me,
Don't tell me someday I'll hear his voice, see his face,
Beyond today I cannot see,
Don?t tell me it is time to move on,
Because I cannot,
Don?t tell me to face the fact he is gone,
Because denial is something I can't stop,
Don't tell me to be thankful for the time I had,
Because I wanted more,
Don't tell me when I am my old self you will be glad,
I'll never be as I was before,
What you can tell me is you will be here for me,
That you will listen when I talk of my child,
You can share with me my precious memories,
You can even cry with me for a while,
And please don't hesitate to say his name,
Because it is something I long to hear everyday,
Friend please realize that I can never be the same,
But if you stand by me, you may like the new person I become someday.

Judi Walker
(In Memory of Shane)
Copyright 1998

Responding to School Violence: How to Move Forward with Your

Responding to School Violence: How to Move Forward with Your Family

Ever since the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, I’ve been feeling out of control and ill at ease, and I suspect I’m not alone. There’s no way to go back and change the outcome of that terrible day. We can’t make those horrific, tragic events turn out any differently. At the bottom of it all is the knowledge that we can’t protect our kids from every dangerous thing out there in this world—and that terrifies me. So today, I'd like to talk about what we can do as parents.

Empathy, kindness and connection: they’re not the answer to all our problems—and I realize our problems are extremely complex—but without them, we are lost.

“You can’t control what anyone else does. You can only control your response,” Debbie Pincus says in many of her articles on Empowering Parents. Wise words that I know to be true.

So this past Saturday, my husband and I had the hardest conversation we’ve ever had with our nearly 10-year-old son.  We decided it was better to give him the correct information about the school shooting rather than allow him to hear rumors from other kids on the bus or on the playground. It wasn’t an easy decision, and it’s one that is up to each parent—every child, and every family, is different.

“I think it’s important when we’re talking to younger children about incidents like these that we’re honest with them,” advises Janet Lehman. “Encourage your child to ask questions and express his feelings and thoughts. Our kids need to know there are bad people in the world who do bad things. Keep it brief and then give them time to ask questions and voice their fears.”

Taking her advice to heart, we kept it short. We tried to reassure our son by saying that grown-ups were working hard to protect kids and to make sure it never happens again. And to the toughest question from our child—“Why did he do it?”—we responded as honestly as we could:  “No one knows for sure. He was mentally ill.”

Many debates have arisen since this incident, but I think something we can all agree on is the need for support for parents of mentally ill, defiant and potentially violent children and teens. There is a huge need for mental health and support services for both parents and kids. Again, we can’t control what people do, but we can control what we decide to advocate for in our country.

So how do we move forward as parents? “Rather than letting anxiety take you over, take action,” says Debbie Pincus. “Fight to prevent these horrific events by writing to local officials and standing up for what you believe. Maybe by doing this, we as a society can make some necessary changes. Action and being proactive will help you feel more control and therefore less anxious—and might result in change. This, in turn, will help our kids feel safe and protected.”

While we all have our own ways of addressing this publicly, I think one thing we can all do is start small at home. Our answer to this tragedy is in our everyday response. Do we let it define us by becoming fearful and giving in to negativity, or do we use this event to try to make things better than they are now? Not to magically wipe away what happened—unfortunately, that’s impossible—but to take a hard look at where we are  and try to improve the way we’re doing things in regards to mental health care and support for parents of defiant and potentially violent kids.

And here’s the truth: you’ve already done something proactive by arriving here at Empowering Parents. You’re taking some positive control by reading articles here to help change your kids’ difficult behavior, talking about your worries without fear of judgment, reading comments from other parents going through the same thing, and finding some potential solutions for your child’s behavior. As a mom myself, it’s hard to think of anything more important than raising my son to the best of my abilities. I know I can’t be a perfect parent, but I believe I’m a “good enough parent,” as James and Janet Lehman say—one who’s looking for answers and trying my best (sometimes hitting the mark, sometimes not), just like everyone else.

That brings me back to Debbie Pincus’ advice to “control our response.”  Small acts of kindness are a good start—something that can help us restore the feeling of connection to others that seems to be sorely lacking in our society these days. Taking it a step further, what if we were to create a movement of kindness? Begin by doing something for your child—notice something good about them and express sincere admiration. Move outward and get your kids involved. Ask them for ideas. Their creativity and willingness to participate might surprise you. Buy a coffee for someone in line after you, shovel your neighbor’s walk, hug a parent who’s having a rough day or for whom this shooting incident has brought up feelings of grief. Send your child’s teacher a note saying, “I know this must be hard for you right now, too. Thank you for everything you do.” Reach out and form a support group for parents in your area who are struggling with their kids’ behavior. Find ways to connect.

I would like to end on this note: As Rob Parker, whose daughter Emilie died in the shooting on Friday said so eloquently, “My daughter would be one of the first ones to be standing and giving support to all the victims because that’s the kind of kid she is. She always had something kind to say about everybody. We find comfort reflecting on the incredible person Emilie was and how many lives she was able to touch.”

Empathy, kindness and connection: they’re not the answer to all our problems—and I realize our problems are extremely complex—but without them, we are lost.

What do you think? What needs to change, and how can we better support each other as parents? And what small acts of kindness would make a difference in your home or in your community?

Read more: http://www.empoweringparents.com/responding-to-school-violence-how-to-move-forward-with-your-family.php#ixzz2FW2h4d69

Comments to Comfort Us Concerning the Tragedy in Newton, CT

At times like these, we all search for meaning. We all look to make sense of tragedy. We need to put it into some organized containers, because otherwise it just becomes too overwhelming.
However,there is no way to make sense of this. 
That’s frustrating to most of us, and even adds to the senselessness.
So here’s the container to put this tragedy — and incidents like it — into. Some acts that a human being commits bear no resemblance to some of the core things that make us human — compassion, empathy, an ability to feel, to be selfless, to care, and to look out for others in our community.
The person who committed this act of violence and murder is human. But somewhere along the way, he lost his sense of humanity. He lost the basic social contract we all hold one another to… that we don’t take the enormous gifts we have of our lives, souls, and community, and blow them all up.

Not all things happen for a reason.
In this case, there simply is no reason.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Newtown, CT tonight.

Excerpts by JOHN M. GROHOL, PSYD

A poem for the children of Newton

I didn’t know your name, I never saw your face,
I never got to see you smile, or get to watch you play.
I never got to walk with you or watch you board the bus,
I never got to kiss your head and tell you that you’re loved.

I never got to k
now you, we were worlds apart,
But on this tragic day, you’ve a place in my heart.
Your smile was robbed, your laughter stole away,
But it is upon angel’s wings, you rest your head today.

Take peace now, innocent one, worry not yourself,
For it is in the arms of a nation, your love can now be felt.
We may never understand the evil, which struck your life today,
But know that through remembrance, you’re never far away.

‘Tis your turn now, our little ones,
To smile down from above,
Kiss mommy, kiss daddy,
Tell them it’s okay,
and they are forever loved.

Now in peaceful rest, may you take, your place amongst the stars.
Your memory never forgotten, always safe, kept in our hearts.
It is with a solemn duty, to you we make this vow,
To find the evil you met today, And with vengeance strike it down.

~~To the memory of all 27 of the innocent lives lost today at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, with special dedication to the children. A nation mourns your loss today, our thoughts a prayers to your families and your community. May you all rest in peace.

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