What Parents Need To Know About School Lockdowns | Nancy Kislin | Episode 63
In the era of school lockdowns, parents are frightened and simply don’t know what to do. Do active shooter drills in schools affect our teens? Should we talk to them about it? Even thinking about the possibility of an active shooter is so horrific that many of us shove the thought aside and ignore it. But our children can’t. They have to experience drills, see signs posted, and talk about the possibility. What does all of that do to them and how can we help them navigate those experiences? Mighty Parenting hosts Judy Davis and Sandy Fowler get expert advice from therapist Nancy Kislin on how to handle drills and support our kids.
What our kids say they don’t like about current lockdown procedures: “I don’t want to go to a classroom where I don’t know anyone because I don’t want to die alone.”
High Points of What Parents Need to Know About School Lockdowns:
There is a disconnect between the child and parent experiences around school shootings and lockdown drills.
When asked about possibilities, kids talk about school shootings as inevitable saying things like, “When the shooter comes”.
When asked about how they feel, kids initially give responses such as “I’m fine” or “It’s fine”. When we dig further we find:
Kids need tools to tolerate the lockdown drills
They pay extra close attention to their teachers
They weren’t comfortable with admitting they’re struggling but they will tell stories of other kids struggling
Going to the bathroom is a stressful experience (if they’re in the hall when a drill starts, they have to go to the closest classroom and they said “I don’t want to go to a classroom where I don’t know anyone because I don’t want to die alone”)
The most important thing we have to do is teach children and keep them safe but monthly drills and going to the bathroom brings them back to the stress of the situation.
There’s been a rise in anxiety, depression, and school avoidance. We’re also seeing more self-harm: cutting, drugs, alcohol, suicide attempts.
Talk to your kids. Ask about drills. Let them teach you about them.
Let your child know you can handle this. One way to be able to handle it is to educate yourself since knowledge is power. Find out your school protocols.
It’s okay for our kids to see our real emotion. It’s good to acknowledge and validate our child’s experience and remind them this is not normal.
We can process our feelings together. Let them know it’s okay to be scared. Help them find tools or strategies for managing the stress of the situation; teach them coping mechanisms.
We tend to avoid talking about taboo subjects and these are often the conversations our kids need the most from us.
There are stories of teachers who talk to the biggest kids in the room and tell them that when a shooter comes, they’ll tackle them together and take them down. We need have conversations with our kids to know if something like this happens.
As schools work to keep our kids safe from shooters, who is thinking about the mental and emotional health of our children through the process? We need to talk to our schools and school boards to encourage attention on the emotional well-being of our children.
After a shooting, don’t let the news cycle run in your home. Don’t expose your kids to horrific images running live.
If a school shooting has touched your child’s life, it’s time to talk. Get out of your normal routine and even out of the house—go to a coffee shop, on a bike ride, or for a ride in the car. Start by getting curious and see how they feel about it and what they’re thinking. If they’re shut down, is it more than normal? If you see signs of acute distress, get a professional involved. Talk to the school counselors, clergy, or a therapist. Doing nothing is not an option.
After a lockdown drill, our kids need a little time before resuming class. They need a couple minutes to pause and catch their breath. This is a good time to using an anxiety coping strategy, it allows the body to shift and acknowledges that this is not normal.
LOCKDOWN: Talking to Your Kids about School Violence
Nancy Kislin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Marriage and Family Therapist, keynote speaker, author, and former Adjunct Professor at Kean University. She maintains a private child, adolescent, and family psychotherapy practice in Chatham, New Jersey. She creates and facilitates parent, teen, and children programs in schools, religious institutions, and summer camps. As a speaker, Nancy has addressed diverse audiences ranging from small groups of parents and school students’ classes, to religious institutions, educators, and other psychotherapists. Nancy has always been at the frontier of bringing current issues confronting children and parents to her audiences and is passionate about helping parents and children navigate the complex issues of today’s society. She hopes to ultimately inspire them to lead productive, joyful, well-balanced lives.
Judy Davis and Sandy Fowler are entrepreneurs who help people live better lives. After creating DASIUM they realized they could help parents avoid the challenges and pain they experienced. Mighty Parenting is what families need to get real, relevant information about raising teens and parenting young adults in today's world.
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