DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The frequency of mass shootings in America have seemingly made no place safe anymore.
Mental health experts say the stress and anxiety are impacting parents and kids alike, and the situation demands a difference response.
“They’re worried,” says Anthony Howard. “They really are.”
Howard says he has three teenage sons and they’ve talked about mass shootings and he’s warned them to stay aware. And yet, he admits he’s worried as well.
“It’s really sad because we didn’t go through this,” laments Howard, recalling a different time when the mass murder of strangers was rare. “It’s sad that people can’t have a disagreement about something, somebody has to die now. It’s a sad situation.”
And it’s one that has forced both parents and mental health experts to deal with a new reality of constant fear.
“Be ready for that conversation, don’t go into it teary eyed,” cautions Dallas Counselor Leigh Richardson, MS, LPC, NCC, BCN, BCB and founder of the Brain Performance Center. “You set the tone.”
Richardson encourages parents to have age appropriate conversations about safety. what to do should something happen.
She also is a fan of having children (and adults) learn relaxation techniques like deep breathing and focusing on the moment to combat stress. Parents, she says, should always listen and be prepared to respond to a child’s concerns, but she cautions parents to never promise a child that something bad won’t happen. Rather, direct the conversation to the positive and all that’s in place to protect.
“We have to teach our children,” says Richardson. “If I had small children today, I would be teaching self care. You’ve got to understand how to take care of yourself, because Mom’s not going to always be there. And the world is crazy.”
“All I can do is pray about it and hope God keeps his hand of protection over them,” says Howard.