Dec 13, 2013 9:05 PM by Eric Ross
The effects of Friday's shooting at Arapahoe High School can be felt by people all around Colorado thanks to to facebook, Twitter and other various social media sites.
While the information spreads quickly, it has its positive and negative effects on everyone, especially children and teens. Memorial Hospital staff chaplain Christopher Keith says parents should talk with their children about Friday's event and ask questions to make sure they have a full understanding of what happened and reiterate that tragedies like this are very rare.
"You know when we avoid something, it tends to not go away," Keith said. "Your children don't have to speak to you as long as they are speaking to somebody."
Keith says open communication is important, but don't force your children to discuss issues they are not comfortable talking about. He says they will talk when they are ready. You just have to remind them you are there to listen.
If you notice a change in your child's behavior such as elevated anxiety levels or depression, seek help from a counselor or psychologist.
Keith sent News 5 these tips to help parents, children and families cope with tragic events:
·Be as patient and compassionate as you can with family, friends, and yourself.
·Spend time talking with good friends, clergy or counselors. We all need to process stressful events, and talking or writing about them in a journal, for example, can be very helpful.
·Take a few moments to breathe deeply. Eat well, rest, get and give hugs, and try to get some exercise.
· Kids' number one need is to be and feel safe. Reassure them that lots of people are helping and protecting us. Point out all the police, EMT's, firefighters and others that are here to help. Model calm for them.
·Spend some extra time with your kids, your presence is reassuring. Kids may act younger than they are or be more "clingy." Give them some extra love - it's good for both them and you. Listen to their worries.
·Try to maintain the usual rhythms of life - structure is important to kids, especially younger ones - but, as always, be flexible. Be honest, but keep explanations simple and developmentally appropriate. Remind them that these are rare events.
·If kids want to help, find ways to help them do so. Have them draw a picture or thank you for the first responders, drop off some food together at a food bank, make a donation on-line, or simply pray or think positive thoughts for the families who are affected. Action creates a sense of control and that can be helpful.
·Be very careful with your media diet. It's great to be informed, but watching scary or anxiety-provoking images will likely make you more stressed. Be even more careful with the images children are exposed to.
· Children or adults who have a past history of traumatic events can be at higher risk for strong reactions. If you or someone you care about has reactions that you feel put them or others at risk, get some professional help or even call 911 if it's urgent.
·Times of crisis can be opportunities to really look at what is important in our lives. See this as an opportunity to reconnect to a sense of spirituality or spend some time reflecting on life.
· The local mental health crisis line is 719-635-7000
· Memorial is here, as we always have been, to help you and your family during this and other times of need.
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