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Take Care of Yourself to Take Care of Your Child: Expert Advice for Parents after Florida Shooting

A child psychologist’s reaction another tragedy at school

So here we are again. Another school shooting. As adults, we are the ones kids look to for comfort. The ones they depend on to be strong. How many adults are feeling just a bit weak or overwhelmed with the news of yet another shooting? I’ll admit I am. I’ll admit I shed a few tears when I heard the news of all those innocent victims and more that are injured, and yet many more left with the scars and trauma of living through such a horrifying experience.

So where do we go from here? As adults we do have to be strong for our children. But in doing so, we have to take care of ourselves first. So, go into your room, close the door, cry if you need to, talk to your spouse, talk to your friends, and say that it’s not fair. Because it isn’t. But be there for your babies. Reassure them, hug them, love on them, and remind them that on a daily basis you and many others, do everything in your power to keep them safe. Safety, and school safety in particular, has improved in recent years, yet these incidents continue to happen.

I know as parents many of us want to grab our child and run as far away from this messy world as possible. But when horrible events take place, all of us have a choice to make. We can pull back and limit our activities and those of our kids, time outside, etc., or we can try to look at the situation and see what we can learn from it and how we can contribute and make a difference, so that hopefully similar events don’t continue to happen.

Yesterday was horrific and many lives were shattered. I have heard a number of rumblings about the suspect’s background and history, some of which may be true, some of which may not be. As adults, as parents, as humans, we have got to pay attention to our at-risk youth and reach out. We have got to take the time to try to make a difference in the life of “that kid.”

When you see a child or adolescent that might be isolating themselves or appear withdrawn, angry, or sitting at the table by themselves, make it a point to reach out, say hello, and ask them if they are doing OK, or need anything. Take the time to be a mentor in the schools, your community, etc., to work with youth and ask about noticeable changes in mood, appearance, or behavior. Share experiences, teach them skills, coach them and encourage them. I am talking about taking the time to show kids you care. If mentoring and intervention starts early it can make a tremendous difference in the lives of at risk youth, and potentially point them down a different road in the future. When you see a child that is troubled, you can also try to get them connected with resources and professionals both within the school system and the community. If just one person reaches out to an at risk child instead of pulling away, it can have tremendous positive implications for that child, and many others.

*Photo from the Associated Press


Talking To Your Children

No matter how hard you try, the shooting at a Florida High School may be difficult to keep away from your kids. Joy Crabtree has more advice on how to talk to your kids about this latest tragedy. Click here to read this article. 

For more information and resources, visit the following sites:

Cook Children’s Behavioral Health (psychology and psychiatry)

MHMR Care Crisis Hotline 817-335-3022 (local mental and behavioral health resources)

In the aftermath of a shooting (American Psychological Association)

Get to know Joy Crabtree

Joy Crabtree is a licensed psychologist and clinic manager for Southlakeand Northeast Psychology Clinics. Our psychiatry department helps children, ages 2-17, and their families who are experiencing behavioral, neurodevelopmental and emotional challenges. Our staff is specifically trained to work with young patients and our psychiatrists are board certified in child and/or adolescent psychiatry. Click to learn more about our program.

To access any of our services, please contact our Intake Department by calling 682-885-3917. To expedite your call, please have your child's date of birth and insurance information ready. For emergency situations, call 911.




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