Tips to help your child feel safe at school after Conn. shooting

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SALT LAKE CITY — Life is a complicated and messy endeavor. Life Coach Kim Giles is here to help you with simple, principle-based solutions to the challenges you face. Coach Kim will empower you to get along with others and become the best you.

The mass shooting Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., shocked us all. The unbelievable reality of 20 young children being killed, 10 days before Christmas, is almost more than adults can process. So parents must be very careful how much young children are exposed to this event.

The effects from this shooting, the nation's second deadliest, will be far-reaching. As a mother as well as a life coach, with firsthand experience with violence and threats toward children, I know it will take time and work to regain a sense of safety.

Some suggestions can guide you as you help your children process their fear.

  • Don't let young children watch the news now. There is no good reason to expose them to this event. It would be better to leave them uninformed, if possible, and keep their sense of safety at school intact. (I suggest this rule: if your child still believes in Santa, he or she is too young to process this event.)

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  1. If your child hears about the news (which he probably will), be there and take time to listen. Listen more than you talk and be ready to answer questions in an honest but simple manner. Empathetic listening is what your child needs most at this time.
  2. Never dismiss or ridicule their fears. If children are scared at night, scared to go to school, wet the bed or become afraid to go outside, don't make fun of their fears. Let them know that everyone experiences fear and it's perfectly normal. Take time to talk about how they feel. Validating their fears, instead of dismissing them, will foster self-esteem as they grow.
  3. Talk to children about how to respond in an emergency. It is smart to be prepared and practice what to do in earthquakes, fires and shootings. Having these discussions should make your child feel safer. They should give your child confidence and make him or her feel strong and smart. There are things he can do to protect himself.
  4. Talk about how rare these events actually are. Millions of children go to school every day (and have for centuries), and only a few have been hurt at school. The odds of your child being hurt there are extremely small. School is still a safe place for kids.
  5. It's OK to feel scared, but we can't let our fear stop us from living, or we let the bad guys win. If your child is scared to go to school Monday, this concept is one you might want to discuss. We cannot let bad people stop us from living our lives. You can empower children to fight back against senseless violence with bravery and kindness. We won't let one bad person ruin school for the rest of us.
  6. Talk to children about your personal spiritual beliefs. Often, trust in a higher power can bring comfort and a feeling of protection. Talk to your child about what it means to trust God and life. Teach children to understand the nature of life (according to your beliefs) and that life is a safe endeavor in spite of the difficulties. No matter what happens we are still OK.
  7. Hold them close and appreciate them more than you ever have. This is a holiday season we won't soon forget.


About the Author: Kimberly Giles --------------------------------

*Kimberly Giles gives her advice in the "LIFEadvice" series every Monday on She is the president of Claritypoint Life Coaching and a sought-after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing self-esteem. Listen to her Self Esteem CPR Workshop at**

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