We here at Well Child want to acknowledge the events that happened at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Uvalde community.
When scary events happen in our world, whether they happen directly to us or we learn about them, they can affect us mentally, physically, and emotionally. Events, or traumatic stress, such as school shootings can cause feelings of anger, fear and sadness for students, parents, and school staff all over the country. Feelings of grief and loss, numbness, confusion, panic attacks, or disconnection may occur. Physical symptoms, such as appetite and sleep changes, stomach pains and headaches, muscle tension, rapid heart rate, and restlessness may occur.
Here are some ways cope with these feelings:
*5-4-3-2-1 Senses Exercise
5 - See: Look around for five things you can see and say them out loud. Look for detail! (“I see the purple lilacs blooming in that bush.”)
4 - Feel: Scan your body; and name four things you can feel. Be specific. (“I feel the warmth and weight of the dog laying on my legs, his fur is tickling my ankles.”)
3 - Hear: Close your eyes and listen for three things you can hear (traffic, birds chirping, etc.) and say them out loud. (“I hear the ticking of the clocking…” )
2 - Smell: Say two things you can smell. If you can't smell anything at the moment, name your two favorite smells out loud.
1 - Taste: Say one thing you taste. If you can't taste anything, imagine your favorite thing to eat. What is it? Describe it and imagine you are eating it.
*4 Square Breathing
To get started, exhale all the air from your lungs.
Inhale, taking a deep breath for 4 seconds.
Hold (pause) the breath for 4 seconds.
Exhale all the air for 4 seconds.
Hold (pause) for 4 seconds.
*Follow along with a guided meditation on Youtube.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2022,) the following are ways you can help your child or teen with coping with a traumatic event:
Give simple facts appropriate to age and cognitive understanding.
Ensure them that they are safe and that their basic needs are being met.
Allow them to feel and express their feelings.
Limit exposure to the news, which can continue disturbing images, videos, and content.
Stick to normal routines; eat dinner as a family, read together.
Model healthy behaviors.
Pay attention to changes in mood, behavior, speech, or strong emotions.
Seek help from a health provider if needed.
Expect your child to be “brave” or “tough”
Force them to discuss the event
Get upset or angry if they show strong emotions or regress
Make promises you can’t keep
Use your child as your confidant or friend
Be afraid to seek help if you need it.
If you are a school employee, a student, a parent, our hearts and prayers are with you too. Blessings and gratitude to all the teachers, school social workers, and additional school staff. We see you.