The senseless act of violence in a Pennsylvania high school on Wednesday sent shock waves through a country already reeling from the familiar scenes of crying children and frightened parents. While many questions remain about the accused attacker and his motives, the key to moving forward rests with adults, who must remain calm to ease their children’s fears.
Curtis Reisinger, PhD, Corporate Director of the North Shore-LIJ Health System’s Employee Assistance Program, says that children model their behavior after what they see at home. If parents act as a soothing influence, their children stand a better chance of weathering an emotional crisis.
“Stay calm and mirror the actual facts,” he said. “Even though the kids (who were victims) look a lot like you, the fact is it didn’t happen here.”
If, however, the child continues to experience feelings of fear or panic, Dr. Reisinger suggests that parents consult their pediatrician or family physician to see if further steps need to be taken.