My first thoughts about what happened yesterday are really not thoughts at all; they are just feelings. Sad; angry; powerless stand out. I work in so many schools and I can’t imagine if it had happened to some of the kids I know, many of whom are my campers.
A few thoughts that may be a bit different from what you are hearing on the news:
First, please don’t let the message to kids be that the world is a scary place, and therefore parents need to keep their kids close and never let them out of their sights. That’s what I heard a lot a few years ago after the 2 boys who had been kidnapped locally were found, one after several years. There are less abductions by strangers today than there were 20 and 30 years ago. And the world is not more dangerous. Our kids are overprotected enough today.
Secondly, remember this mantra that I heard years ago that fits here:
WHAT IS UNEXPRESSED BECOMES UNMANAGEABLE!
Kids will have a myriad of emotions about this event, and they need safe outlets. They need permission to express ALL emotions, and healthy ways to do this; ie. journaling, artwork, talking to an adult, etc. I think it is healthy for kids to see their parents express sadness about the shooting, as long as parents can pull it together in order to be there for their kids too. It gives kids permission to feel.
Lastly, this tragedy gives parents an opportunity to talk to their children about death; their spiritual beliefs, their experiences with loss. We are so afraid of aging and death these days, and that is not the way it used to be back in the days when so many kids died in childbirth or before the age of 5 from diseases. That was not that long ago historically. Death and aging were considered a part of life to embrace, not to be run from.
And any talks about death should then involve talks about life, about gratitude and appreciation. About living each day to the fullest, and being in the moment so that you can fully enjoy each moment. About the importance of connecting and down time together. About unplugging all electronics and being fully present with each other.
The latter is what I would focus on, but be sure to allow all the grieving that needs to take place to occur first.