On this page, you'll find several suggestions and articles on managing the complex feelings and conversations that may arise in the days and weeks ahead.  

HealthyChildrens.org offers great information about how to talk to your children about tragedies. When starting these conversations, many experts agree that simply asking what they have heard and already know is a good place to start. 

The American School Counselor Association shared these additional suggestions for working through times of mental and emotional stress with your child:

  • Keep routines as normal as possible. Kids gain security from the predictability of routine.
  • Limit exposure to television and the news.
  • Be honest with kids and share as much information as they are developmentally able to handle.
  • Listen to kids' fears and concerns.
  • Reassure kids that the world is a good place to be, but some people do bad things.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has several resource articles related to managing the aftermath of school shootings, such as Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event and Parent Guidelines for Helping Youth after the Recent Shooting.

Caregivers of young children may also find this video by our friends at Sesame Street helpful in framing a conversation about violence in our communities.  

In times like these, it's important to monitor your child's mental health. Keep a close eye out for changes in mood, sleep, diet and personal engagement. Keep in mind stress often manifests itself in headaches or stomachaches in children. Please help your child acknowledge their feelings and name their emotions. If your child has negative thoughts, remind them that it's OK not to feel OKsometimes. As a parent or caregiver, it's important to be even more mindful and attentive to signs of kids becoming mentally exhausted.

Lessons in mindfulness or meditation are good tools for stress management. Simple breathing techniques can be beneficial, and a few minutes each morning helps set the tone for the rest of the day. Even young children can benefit from the "balloon breath" exercise. Have your child inhale through their nose and make their belly expand like a balloon. Then have them exhale through the nose while pulling the belly in, deflating the "balloon." This exercise can help ease the physical effects of stressful situations.

    If you're concerned about your child's mental health, there are several options for professional help:

  • Contact the Arkansas Children's Behavioral Health Resource Line at 501-364-4411. Clinically trained social workers will help match you with mental health resources specific to your concerns. This line is available between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • The National Suicide Lifeline at 988 is available 24/7/365.
  • You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. Crisis counselors are available 24/7/365.
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    Add these numbers to your child’s phone contacts and remind them counselors are always available to talk.