Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Arapahoe High School Shooting: Signs That Your Kids May Be Struggling

In the wake of the Arapahoe High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado yesterday, I was on 9 News to talk about some of the struggles kids may have this weekend while processing what happened.

It is important to recognize that many students are going to be having extreme reactions over the next few days, but these stressors won't last. For most people, kids included, the stressors that come from a traumatic event dissipate on their own with no need for professional help. For a small number of people, the symptoms last for months and can eventually turn into PTSD. Fortunately, this is rare.

Some students will have absolutely no ill effects from the events yesterday. This is also rare. What is more typical is that students will be stressed, sad, angry, scared, and confused for a while--anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Parents and relatives need to understand their kids may need some extra attention during this time. It may be necessary to explain to them what is happening and why they are so upset. It can also help to explain to them that it is probably just temporary and that they need to reach out for help if their problems are not going away.

Most important is to be comforting. Sometimes, kids just need you to sit with them and listen to what they have to say. Or hug them while they are crying. Or lie down next to them at night when they are having nightmares. You don't have to 'solve' the problem for them--just let them know you are there to support them.

Also, do not be surprised if kids who were not at Arapahoe High School have problems with stress this weekend. You don't always have to be there to be hurt.

For those who are really struggling, regardless of age, the Arapah720-874-8620
oe County Sheriff's office has set up a mental health hotline:

Here is a link to some video from yesterday where I discuss these issues with Mark Koebrick and Cheryl Preheim:

Click here to watch the video if it does not appear above.

Thanks for reading-- Max Wachtel, Ph.D.


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