As you prepare your children for school tomorrow, you may need to take some time in the morning to regroup and reconnect to answer their questions or concerns. We are aware that many of our LPS students and families have connections both to Douglas County School District and STEM Highlands Ranch which creates increased need for care and support.
Here are a few suggestions from our LPS Mental Health Crisis Team that might be helpful to you as you support your children through these difficult situations.
- Children will react in different ways, times and levels of appropriateness (i.e. some may be anxious, some sad, some may laugh or make jokes). Some children may have a great deal of questions and need some time and space to process. Others may not have any questions at all and be excited to resume their work and classes.
- Give children of all ages extra patience and grace as they work through the events of yesterday and the return to school. Recognize that you may also need to give yourself some grace and space to process such a significant event.
- Discuss what we know - stick to the facts as we know them, not speculation or rumors. Answer the questions that kids have - avoid providing too many details.
- Reinforce safety - we are safe right now and we work hard to stay safe. We have plans and people who maintain our safety regularly. This is why we practice lockdowns at school, tell trusted adults when we are concerned about something or use Safe2Tell. Your school has a security team who works all the time to keep you safe.
- If your children feel they have information about the incident at STEM that should be reported, please direct them to law enforcement (SROs) or ask your building principal for support.
- If your children are concerned about a friend, either in LPS or other districts, encourage them to talk with a trusted adult, call LPS security (303-347-3420) or use Safe2Tell (877-542-7233 or text S2T at 274637).
- Expect ongoing sensational media coverage. Remember consuming a large amount media coverage, spending time on social media or discussing these topics at length can increase anxiety for children, teens AND adults. Consider ways to disengage from the continued coverage over the next several days.
Talking with Elementary Students
- Use time together for a brief check-in. “The end of your day was different. I wanted to take a few minutes to check-in with you all. How are you?”
- For younger children (K-2), be responsive but don’t initiate the conversation. For older kids (3-5th), acknowledge the situation and allow a brief time for conversation. An example would be: “There was a shooting in a school nearby yesterday. I wanted to make sure you were able to ask questions or talk about what’s on your mind.”
- Let your children ask questions. Answer concretely and succinctly and then move your day forward. Monitor your children - if your child seems to need additional support or space to continue processing or questioning, reach out to your administrators or school mental health professionals for more support during their school day.
Talking with Secondary Students
- Don’t ignore it. Confirm the basic facts but don’t get into long conversations about questionable or sensational details. Example: “Two students, one over 18 and one under, went into their school with weapons and opened fire. One student died and several were injured.”
- Acknowledge that yesterday’s school release was unique and unexpected. News about why school was placed on a secured perimeter may be worrisome for some children. We are aware that many students and families have connections to students who attend STEM in Highlands Ranch or other affected Douglas County schools.
- Reinforce ways to get help if you are worried about yourself or others. Remind your children of help-seeking behaviors, talking with trusted adults or using Safe2Tell.
- Be sure to actively plan to engage in healthy activities, such as spending time together, listening to music, or exercising.
Positive activities you can do with your child:
Write thank you notes to police officers, emergency responders, etc.
Write a card or make a poster of support for the students and staff at STEM
Do a Random Act of Kindness today