Parenting Against the Sniper

By: Jeremy Ross
By: Jeremy Ross

“Your children are not safe anywhere at any time.” -- A chilling note read by police investigating the Beltway sniper. The quote has some mid-Michigan parents bracing to console their own children.

But Dr. Michael Rogell, licensed psychologist, says if your child asks about the sniper to make sure parents talk about the issue.

Dr. Rogell says a child’s expression of fear or feelings can be not only healthy but a social growth experience for them. But, he doesn’t recommend discussing the subject unless your children bring it up.

Dr. Rogell recommends when parents discuss any issues that deal with anxiety to be truthful, consoling and listen to their children’s questions.

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Coping With the Sniper Shootings

When bad things happen over which we have no control, it raises our level of stress. If these bad things continue to occur over an extended period of time, our stress escalates into anxiety and apprehension.

Waiting for to hear if a sniper has been captured while bracing for news of more victims can be unnerving. Many people are feeling anxious, vulnerable and upset. These are all normal reactions. Here are a few things that can help you cope with this situation:

  • Maintain control over those things that you can. For example: If you walk for exercise, continue to walk. You might consider changing your walk to an inside location like the YMCA or the mall but, by all means, continue your daily routine.

  • Limit your television news viewing. Bad things generate news coverage but you don’t have to subject yourself or your family to repeated doses of it. Tune in for occasional updates, but don’t sit in front of the television waiting for them. Instead, turn to a movie channel or read a book.

  • If it makes you feel better to keep family members close by, then do it. Being cautious about personal safety is good. But try not to overreact.

  • Do something for someone else. Taking attention off our own worries and doing something nice for someone else can improve our own frame of mind.

  • Volunteer. Contact area schools, hospitals or volunteer groups to ask how you can help during this time. Taking action to be part of the solution is a very constructive way to reduce your anxiety.

  • Talk to someone. If you start to feel overwhelmed by your feelings, talk with a friend, family member, doctor, religious advisor or mental health professional. Often, talking about your fears and realizing that someone else shares your feelings is enough to reduce your anxiety.

For further help, you can contact your local Mental Health Association or the National Mental Health Association at 800-969-NMHA (6642), www.nmha.org.

Source: http://www.nmha.org/ (National Mental Heath Association Web site) contributed to this report.


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