"These beautiful children who had their lives taken away from them. It's a tragedy of unspeakable terms ... Evil visited our community today." - CT. Gov. Dannel Malloy
Twenty, innocent beautiful little kids and six adults died in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newton, CT. "It's a parent's worst nightmare." As seasoned reporters and first-responders talk about the massacre we can see and hear the grief, confusion and anger in their voices. "Senseless." "Incomprehensible." "Shocking." "Darkness," and "Horrendous." Words seem feeble to describe the emotions.
What can we do to help our kids with this tragedy?
Our kids need our help in responding to this senseless violence. Parents are asking me, "What does my child need?" "How should I respond?" "How do I talk with my child?" Here are five qualities (assets) you should try to build in your family to help your child cope with tragedy and become a capable child.
Five Assets of a Safe & Healthy Home
Adapted from www.search-institute.org
- Nurturing Relationships - Take time to have positive talks with your kids. Show them extra affection. Increase the hugs! Be open and available to talk and be there to support them. The Sandy Hook tragedy will make your children and teens feel vulnerable. They need to be nurtured by dad and mom.
- Establishing Routines - Christmas is a wonderful time to use traditions to reassure your kids. Traditions help us feel connected and give us a sense of family identity. Check out 52 Creative Family Time Experiences for more ideas on family traditions. Family meals help kids feel connected. Have children help prepare or clean up afterwards helps them contribute. After a crisis, kids are thinking - Who can I depend on? Seek to be as dependable as you can. Don't over-promise, but deliver on what you do promise. Trust, love and security are a combo pak in the minds of our kids. If they feel secure, they feel loved. If they feel secure, they can trust you.
- Maintaining Expectations - Be open to talk about the tough topics, like the Sandy Hook killings, if you child ask questions. Give them direct, age-appropriate responses. Set boundaries with media. Don't keep the TV on with coverage about the tragedy. Hold your child to reasonable expectations and ask them to contribute to household chores, wrapping Christmas presents, taking down the decor, etc.
- Adapting to Challenges - Have a family discussion on "What can we do to help the families in need?" Pray for those families that lost a child or a parent. Seek to return to normal as soon as you can; which includes daily tasks. Seek to problem solve as a team. Give your kids a voice on how they want to help those in need or spend time on the Christmas vacation. Giving your child a voice empowers him.
- Connected to Community - We've seen the powerful footage from Newton, CT of how the community in and around Newton is rallying to stand with a shock and horrified town. Support and gifts are coming in from all over the globe. In times of crisis, we desperately need to be connected. We need community. Spend extra time in the next few weeks getting to know your neighbors and friends in your community. Look for healthy, positive adults to be role models for your children. Seek out community activities that build cohesion and support. Look for the resources ahead of time. Know where to get help before you need it. Knowing you have support helps you use it when you need it.
We live in a scary, evil world. The very planet that Jesus came to save. He is the Light of the world and offers guidance through the darkness, like the star of Bethlehem. He offers peace to the soul in anguish. He is the Prince of Peace. This Babe - the very Son of God offers Himself so that we, tainted, broken, sinful people can experience His forgiveness, grace and joy. Joy to the World! Peace on earth.