“How do I talk to my kids about school shootings?”

Hello, welcome to Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint, licensed marriage and family therapist,
coming to you live on Facebook every noon on Wednesdays to answer your parenting questions
here on Tips on Teens. I am the founder and clinical director of Teen Therapy Center, and also
the executive director and chairman of the board of Child and Teen Counseling, a nonprofit
training site for therapists in grad school. Anyways, let's jump into today's question. The
recent shooting at Saugus High School has left me both sad and angry. I am also worried about
how to talk to my kids about this. How do I explain to my kids that these shootings will continue
to keep happening, and how do I reassure them that they are safe at school? I don't know if they
are safe, but I don't know what else to do. I think we can all relate to this, unfortunately for
the last 20 years we've lived in a society where school shootings and mass shootings are becoming
all too commonplace and it's something that it's

part of our culture and society unfortunately. I kind of hearken back to like most parents watching
when we were kids we had you know you know uh air raid drops you know like you know alarms like you
know with the whole cold war nuclear weapon war could happen any minute and so we had these these
um what are they called the uh I can't think what they're called. Alarms, like there are tests
wherever that you go and you duck under your table. I'm totally blanking on the word. All of you
know what the word is right now and I'm totally blanking on it. I apologize. Anyways, drills!
That's what they're called, drills. We have these, you know, you know, air raid drills. We don't
really do them anymore because the Cold War is kind of over. We're not really worried about the
bombs, thank goodness, but now we have mass shootings. So it's kind of our culture right now.
There's a lot of ways to deal with this. Number one, I think you want to make sure you're involved
with your school to make sure they

have plans in place. If there is a mass shooting, are there preparations on how to deal with that?
Secondly, how do you talk to your kids about this? How do you talk to your kids and normalize this
mass shooting culture? And that's a challenge. For little kids, let's say preschool, kindergarten,
if you don't talk to them about it, don't. If they're not being engaged in it directly, they don't
have to know about it. They're not going to be able to comprehend it fully. Now, if they are at
a school shooting, that's a tiny different story, and you probably don't need to give them help.
But if you're just talking about the culture, what they know, if they find out about it, you probably
want to keep the description to like a one -sentence answer. Quick, brief, to the point. You
don't want to show them pictures, keep them away from the news. But you might want to help them
gear towards more a positive understanding. So highlight the positives. Instead of saying
that two people were shot and killed,

you can say, hey, seven people were rescued by the police and the paramedics and the doctors
and they felt better and they responded quickly. So instead of focusing on the negative, try
to focus on some of the positives. Replace the negative imagery with positive imagery because
that negative imagery can be intense and can be, it can stay in their heads. Negative stays in
their heads longer than positive does. Positive is easy to let go. Negative just sticks like
a sticky glue. And so you want to make sure you have positives to help replace that. If you have
elementary school kids, you know, third, fourth, fifth, sixth grade, you want to make sure
that, you know, if they are hearing about it, keep the descriptions simple. Find out what they're
thinking, what they're feeling. You're probably not going to too much dramatic talk about
it. Find out if they have an idea of if this is happening at their school, what they would do. Again,
go towards positives. Highlight the stories of people being

rescued, of people being heroic. I think those are really good stories to listen to. Middle
school age, you want to check in more with how they're feeling, what they're knowing, what they
would do in these kind of situations. Make sure they have a plan. Make sure that know that they
are safe with you, that you will be there for them. Make sure that, again, the school is involved.
And in high school with older teens, this may be a great opportunity to take all of that we've
already talked about, but also go into activism. You know, we feel helpless when we have nothing
to do, but when we have, we have feeling we have an active, we are active, we can make choices,
it gives us a sense of power, a sense of agency. So that could mean they get politically involved,
get involved in their community, get involved and help training for safety training, you know,
give them a sense of purpose in all this and that may help them deal and cope with these things.
Now, we're not going to deal with how to

solve the mass shooting question because there are politicians and business leaders and,
you know, that's being talked about all the time and this one little, you know, Facebook Live
is not going to solve that, but it is an issue and hopefully with those high schools who are getting
involved, maybe that starts helping move the wheel in a sense to help solve this problem. It's
a horrible problem and so far there hasn't been anything amazing or or groundbreaking to push
this forward into a more positive place but hopefully it does soon. And again my heart goes out
to the victims of Saugus, the victims of previous shootings and the victims of future shootings
because unfortunately they're going to keep happening. It's important that when we talk to
our kids That we stay calm though. They're going to feed off our reaction and our fear or our anger
and the more calm we are The more likely they will be able to stay calm and take a measure approach
to this as well Anyways, that's our question

for today. I am off next week for Thanksgiving week I'll be out of town enjoying my family and
having some fun Thanksgiving food Thank you all for tuning in We'll be back in two weeks Which
I believe is December 4th with a new question to answer for you and if you have questions you'd
like me to answer, you can email me at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com. You can also direct
messages right here on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or however else you wanna contact us.
We'd be loving to hear your questions and answer them next time. Talk to you soon, guys. Happy
Thanksgiving, bye -bye.

Given the amount of gun violence occurring in this country, students today are increasingly worried about their own safety in the classroom. As parents, what can we do when our child comes to us about gun violence in schools? This week’s Tips On Teens question comes from a parent seeking advice on what to say to their kids following the recent mass shootings.

“The recent shooting at Saugus High School has left me both sad and angry. I am also worried about how to talk to my kids about this. How do I explain to my kids that these shooting will continue to keep happening and how do I reassure them that they are safe at school? I don’t know if they are safe, but I don’t know what else to do.”

Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live.  He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com.  Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.