I recently had a client tell me about her five-year-old’s experience with a school lock down. The parent was distressed, and had wished the school had forewarned her about it in order for her to talk about it with her child. This made me begin to ponder these new drills that are being introduced to our children at a very early age. I only had a fire drill when I was in elementary school now there are fire, intruder, tornado, etc. It may be causing more stress on our children then we realize.
I do understand that the school’s need to keep these drills spontaneous and sporadic but how do we, as care givers, handle the aftermath? Some children have nightmares afterwards, others have lockdown drills with their siblings at home like a game, or are nervous upon returning to school. How do we handle this? Is this necessary? Are we creating needless fear for our children?
What I find sad; is that everything I tried to find on the subject seemed to lead me to believe that no one is looking at the emotional wellness for our children for these drills. Duck and Cover was something I don’t remember but fire drills I do, but I don’t remember feeling stressed out by them, actually I felt kind of relieved to hang out with my friends while the fire department checked out our school. I think that if we, as adults, stay calm and talk to our children after the fact in a matter-of-fact manner it will help them. Children read our energy, and if we react to our children’s stress in a way that is overly concerned our children will pick up on that, and react accordingly.
I think (and remember this is ALL opinion due to my experience with children, and the lack of information I was able to find) that when we react dramatically to our children’s concerns instead of comforting them without engaging them with complex ideas it is our best defense. Give them a lot of hugs, kisses, and acknowledge that they may feel weird about these drills, or stressed etc but it is normal (it may not have been normal for us but it is for them), and these drills are in place in order to help them to know what to do in the unlikely event that an event they are practicing for will probably not happen but it’s important to be prepared just in case.
Children get it, and are a lot more flexible then we give them credit for. We need to make sure that our concerns are ours, and that we don’t bleed them out onto our kids. If children are concerned keep an open mind but don’t react in a way that can exacerbate their worries.
Comfort and love are what our children need to feel safe. Reassure them that they are safe, and that everyone who knows them, loves them, and wants them to be safe. They may need more hugs and kisses, and extra attention at bedtime after one of these drills but that’s okay. Don’t over explain, over react, let them know you understand, and give them lots of reassurance.
If you’re not sure some of the procedures being utilized by schools get informed here are few procedures that are followed by a lot of schools; or talk to your school administrators to find out what the procedures are for your child’s school lockdown. It’s okay to be involved and know what they are going through.