Our thoughts and prayers go out tonight to the many families in Newtown, Connecticut who are dealing with the terrifying events that happened today. I know this area of Connecticut well having family that live in the state. These events are very close to home. I imagine that like me you gave your young children a big hug when arriving home today.
Senseless violence is very difficult for adults to understand and even more the case for young children. One of the best things we can do for our children this weekend is maintain a normal routine and follow our regular family structure. Children love having structure and being around friends and family. When we provide structure, we help children to not worry and lessen the chance of anxiety. Furthermore, structure promotes physical health through regularly scheduled sleep, exercise and meals. It is important that adults don’t show our anxiety about the events and stress that violence is never a solution to a problem.
My wife and I are doing a media blackout for our two young daughters this weekend. The limiting of television viewing is helpful for all children and particularly will be helpful this weekend.
If children do gain access to information about the tragedy in Connecticut, it is vital to have conversations as these events can quickly be misunderstood and anxiety producing in young children. In such cases it is critical to monitor children’s emotional state. During times of tragedy it is very important that we reassure children they are safe. If children ask questions, it is helpful to have answers that are simple and brief.
If your children become aware of this tragedy and have concerns, please let them know that they are safe at Pine Glen Elementary School in Burlington, MA. Please let them know that Mr. Lyons and their teacher(s) will keep them safe. If you feel that your child needs more reassurance, our guidance counselor, Ms. May, school psychologist, Ms. Garneau and I will be available to meet with him/her on Monday to talk about how hard we work to make our school a safe environment for life-long learning.
John Lyons, M.S. Ed.
Pine Glen Elementary School