My son is 5 and in Pre-k. Friday after the shooting, I asked him if he knew the safety drill in his school and told him to make sure to always listen to his teacher because fires could happen at any time or bad people can come hurt people anytime. I didnt want to emphasize on the shooting because I didn't think he would understand it and didn't see a reason to scare him. Well this morning when I was getting him ready for school, I told him I would miss him and I loved him and gave him a big ol hug. (I always tell him I love him and give him a hug!) Then he told me, "Don't worry, I am not going to die." My heart just sank! No 5 year old should have to think about if they are going to die or not. I don't know if he happened to catch something on the news while I thought he was occupied (he was in other rooms while it was on, so if he did, it had to have been when he was just running to grabbing a toy or drink, but he is so preoccupied in play that I didnt think he would hear or understand anything.), maybe our talk pointed out things that he knew more of than what I thought, or if it was just a coincidence. All I could think of when he said it was, you are right, you wont die and you have protectors all around you.
Now what though? He is only 5 and I don't want to scare him. Should I talk to him more, wait until he brings it up (perhaps if he hears more about it at school) , or what are you all doing or would do in this situation?
I guess I don't shelter my daughter.
What she learns she learns, and if she asks about it I answer any question she has.
I would probably ask why he made the comment about dying, and see if that leads anywhere.
DD is 3 though so she has asked nothing about it, She does watch the news with us and if she saw it and asked I would answer her.
IMO death shouldn't be such an odd thing to talk about, everybody dies.
Omg :( made me cry, my daughter is not on school yet.
DD asked about it when we were watching the news this morning. We told her that there was a bad guy that hurt people, but that he was dead now and he couldn't hurt her now. It works for us because she already knows about death and dying, so that might not work for you.
Maybe just wait and see what he says to you. Answer him honestly, but in a way that wont scare him. The school may talk a little about it today. The schools my boys go to sent emails out over the weekend saying they are going to go over the safety plans and everything. Im sure my 11 year old will get talked to more than my 7 or 9 year old. The teachers are just going to reassure the kids they are safe, but make sure they know what to do in case of an emergency.
I talked to my kids about it Friday when they got home from school. I just told them what happened, and my 7 year old told me how sad that was. He said if someone did that in his school he would be sad if his best friend died. It put things into a different perspective for me since hes the same age as the kids that died. He wore green for the kids today. He was going to wear his new shirt he got for his birthday, but when he saw someone had posted something on my FB about wearing green and white he changed his mind.
I went through safety procedures with my four year old, to start. He's known for a while what to do if he sees a gun, or someone comes into the building with one. He had an idea that some kids were shot at school, because his school went into lock down and I guess someone slipped the info to him. I told him straight out that some people are very sad and angry, and some times these people end up hurting others, including children. That it was something that was ok to be upset and scared about, and we should keep both the sad person and the people that were killed in our thoughts. I also explained to him that every one was working as hard as we could to keep him safe, and that he needs to remember what to do to in a scary situation to keep himself safe.
I think kids do pick up on a lot more than we think. I know that, at 4, he fully grasped what I explained to him, and could describe it back to me. I would always start by asking what he understands, what he heard, and if he's worried about anything. That gives a great gist of what needs to be said and what can be left alone until he's older.
It is very important to not change your life or shelter your children after something like what happened. This link is a wonderful resource and I encourage everyone to share it with other families.
Thank you all for the great advice! My son knows about dying and death. We go to his sister's grave together and have talked about it many times. We also have a gun in the house. We have it where he can not get to it, but we have told him that guns are not to play around with, they kill people, and to stay far far away from them or anyone who has one. Which is why him saying that could be a coincidence because death is a subject that does come up from time to time in our house. I definitely don't want him to be sheltered or scared! I have horrible anxiety about death (pretty sure I got it from losing my daughter when I almost died too) and am so afraid that I will teach him to where he ends up afraid like me and always worried. DH is usually the better one about not being afraid of anything and would probably do better in the situation, but he is deployed right now. (Which my son thinks DH is at work fighting bad guys, so he does know a little about bad guys too.)