Tips to help kids feel safe returning to school
What to say to make children feel secure as they head back to class this week.
“Unspeakable” and “senseless” are two adjectives that surface repeatedly in the press following Friday’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Such words seem to approach the ineffable dissonance we experience as we struggle to comprehend this tragedy.
For parents with children returning to school this week, remaining mute is not an option. Adults must speak to their children about this violent event. They must attempt to make them feel safe at school.
Sadly, this won’t be the first time many parents broach a horrific topic with their kids. The shooting in Aurora, Colo., the death toll in Chicago and the killing of Trayvon Martin provided other opportunities for such family discussions this year.
Child psychologists and parenting experts encourage adults to be honest about the events, without overexposing children to the grim details. Do not have the news on nonstop. Ask your children if they know about incident. Assure them that it is over. How do they feel about it? What are their concerns?
Protect your children’s sense of security by assuring them that this is an isolated occurrence. School violence is actually declining, according to David Finkelhor, professor of sociology and director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. “It’s a vanishingly rare occurrence, and schools are still the safest places kids can hang out in terms of violence,” he told Reuters.
Do not lie to your kids, however. You need to maintain their trust and confidence. “To say this would never happen to you, I don’t think that is reasonable, ” said Dr. Michael Brody, a child psychiatrist and chairman of the Television and Media Committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Now may be a good time to address your children’s exposure to media. Ask them what they watch on television. Inquire about which video games they play. Although viewed media and actual violence are not strongly correlative, you should know what your children watch and do.
If you have teenage children, speak to them about social media. Be certain that they are not looking up more grisly details about the event on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook. Also be aware that many of these sites can be accessed on their smartphones.
Speak to your older children about school emergency protocols and evacuation plans. Do not feed their anxieties, however. If the topic seems distressing to them, bring it up at another time.
And do not seem overly affected by the news yourself. Maintain your usual weekly activities. Perhaps even find time to laugh and have fun with your children: bake, watch a video or play outside. The best way to cultivate security is to create a warm, loving environment at home.
Regardless of what you do, remember that grief, fear and anxiety are all natural responses to dramatic incidents like Sandy Hook. If these emotions overwhelm your child and impact her daily life, you should seek a professional counselor.
Some parents and children may find comfort in getting involved. Facebook group “Let Us Live!” formed Saturday morning in the wake of Sandy Hook. The group asks children to “Sketch/paint/write your message to BAN guns!” Parents can mail these pictures to the White House and post photos of them on the Facebook page.
“Let Us Live!” aims to achieve 1,000 works of anti-gun art by Christmas.
Photo: Datacraft Co Ltd/Getty Images
News, stories, tips and laughs for moms & dads
When it comes to traveling with the family, "adventure" can mean a lot of different things. Just packing the suitcases for a 3-hour flight can be an adventure of its own. And surviving a 5-hour flight with a toddler? That's a whole different kind of adventure (tip: pack snacks). But when your family adventure is good, it can be is really, really good. Sometimes swimming with dolphins or ziplining through the rainforest is just the kind of vacation that will make you forget all about airport hassle, and will get your kids (even the teens) smiling. From hiking the Rockies to white-water rafting, we've found 11 family adventure vacations that will get the adrenaline pumping without driving you crazy.
When you're expecting a baby, preparations can be overwhelming. Decorating is stressful as it is, and when it comes to nurseries, there are the added concerns of reducing sharp edges, use of engaging colors and -- if you're a believer in the powers of feng shui—optimal furniture placement. Luckily, your favorite fashionable A-listers are here with tons of dazzling baby room ideas. Click through this slideshow for more nursery ideas from celebrities, stylists and just plain fashionable moms.
Our Research Institute scouted out the New York City Toy Fair and spotted a few standouts we predict will be topping wish lists shortly.
When we scoped out the New York City Toy Fair, we spotted everything from human-like robots to kid-friendly DIY projects.
Stroll down any aisle of a Toys"R"Us these days and you'll be confronted with a billion options that are light-years beyond anything you had to entertain yourself with as a kid. Lego cruise ships (complete with flatscreen TVs in the lounge and sideboard jet-skis), battery-operated Mercedes-Benz sedans, and hi-tech tablets with Android operating systems abound. We wondered, as we let ourselves get nostalgic for a moment, if any of the beloved toys we played with as children were still even on the market. Thanks to a quick hunt on the Internet we were able to find that Fisher Price still makes their classic Two Tune TV, and you can still get your hands on a good ol' Slinky. Here's a roundup of the best old-school toys for kids-- we encourage you to click through the slideshow and consider wrapping up a well-loved classic for your little one this year.
Not great with a budget? Don't sweat it. Try these simple ways to save.
Watch the video of Kristen Bell going head to head with paparazzi - it will make you angry
Every year, toy makers from around the world gather to show their latest creations at the Toy Fair in New York City. The high-tech models, gadgets and trinkets on display put those basic Legos we played with at kids to shame. Here are 10 new toys that we'd happily buy or children. Or, really, ourselves.
Find yourself wandering the aisles, suddenly needing an owl-shaped candle while drinking a $5 latte? You're not alone, moms...
Here's some parenting advice for whatever stage of separation or divorce you're in.
Whether you pop it in the mail or post it on social media, a creative photo is a surefire way to grab everyone’s attention and proudly say, “I’m pregnant!” Prepare for a lot of likes.
Remember the magical children’s rooms in Peter Pan and The Little Prince? These timeless novels described spaces that were enchanting and made us wish that we could inhabit the rooms ourselves. The sumptuous interiors that were filled with never-ending toys and fort-like draping may seem like a fairytale, but thanks to four of our favorite kids' furniture websites, the dream could actually become a reality. Click through the slideshow to check out the best kids furniture websites that have everything necessary to create a fantasy room for your little one. And check out Sophia Demenge's super-fun space in the video below. By Barry Samaha