Coping with tragedy

Krystle Wagner • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:57 AM

Parents sent their children to school on Monday with heavy hearts.

As families in Newtown, Conn., continue to mourn their loss from Friday’s tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the somber emotion resonated in the Tri-Cities area as parents waited for their children at the end of the school day.

On Monday, Nicole Porter followed her routine of sending her 4-year-old preschooler to Peach Plains Elementary School. The Grand Haven woman said she couldn’t imagine what the parents in Newtown were going through.

Porter said her daughter remained unaware of Friday’s tragedy, and she didn’t want her to know something happened. The mother said she didn’t want the weight of the world burdening her young and carefree daughter.

Although Porter said the news was heartbreaking, she said fear shouldn’t stop families from going about their lives.

“I think every parent is worried,” she said. “At the same time, we couldn’t stop our lives.”

When news of the tragedy broke Friday, local schools reached out to parents with information for answering their children’s questions and helping them cope.

On Monday, Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Keith Konarska said teachers planned to keep things as normal as possible to reassure students’ sense of security.

“If students have questions about the tragedy, our teachers will try to answer as honestly as possible without the conversation dominating the day,” he said. “Teachers will also be mindful of students who need additional support from counselors or school social workers.”

Tips for helping children cope:

Reassure children that they are safe

Remind them trustworthy people are in charge

Tell them the truth and stick to the facts

Let children know it’s OK to feel upset

Monitor your own stress level

For more help, click here.

Source: National Association of School Psychologists

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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