The tragic events of last week were as much a reminder for me as I have seen in my 15 years working as a psychologist that one singular stimulus can result in a multitude of reactions and coping mechanisms. It is important to remember that we all cope in different ways. While some kids have repeatedly reached out to the members of the counseling staff to tell and retell their experiences, others preferred to quietly return to a sense of normalcy. Some kids presented as teary and anxious while others joked and chatted in class more than usual. It is our job as parents, teachers and counselors to create the space for kids to process in their own way. Let them talk (or write, or draw) in their own time, knowing that if and when they are ready to do so, you are going to be there to listen.
Another issue that confronted us all last week as parents was how to balance our own needs and emotions with those of our children. Many of us asked ourselves, “What if I say the ‘wrong’ thing and end up scaring them more?” Please know that it is OK for kids to see that we have questions and concerns of our own. While it is not appropriate to use our kids as sounding boards to work out our own anxieties, it is perfectly natural to show emotion.
Finally, it is helpful to encourage our kids to understand that while there are a few very bad people in this world, there are so very many good people. In the sage words of Mister Rogers, encourage your kids to “look for the helpers.” The way to fight some of the helpless, anxious feelings we all have is to get behind the first responders, marathoners who continued running to give blood, Bostonians who were fearless, selfless and resilient; talk about what they have done and join your kids in brainstorming ways that members of the Nobles community can become one of the helpers in the rebuilding process. Tapping into our kids’ passion and goodness is a very powerful way of healing.
Please know that the counseling team will remain vigilant in the coming weeks to reach out to those who seem to be displaying high levels of anxiety which may manifest as trouble sleeping, difficulty focusing, nightmares, or tearfulness. We will continue to remind students that we are here to offer a variety of concrete strategies to help quiet the mind, and we will focus on resilience throughout the spring. As always, do not hesitate to contact a member of the counseling staff if you have any questions or concerns about your child.