Following the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that has shocked the world, many families may feel uneasy as their children return to school this week. Not only has the tragedy made some parents question their children’s safety at school, but children and teens may also find it difficult to return to their normal routine as they remain concerned about the events that took place.

Seattle Children’s pediatrician and blogger Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson provides helpful advice in her Seattle Mama Doc post about how parents can support their children as well as themselves in the next few days and weeks ahead.

Below you will find a brief sampling of Dr. Swanson’s helpful tips for parents. For the complete list, visit her Seattle Mama Doc post, “Going Back to School Monday.”

  • Remember your child’s school is safe – Random shootings are an anomaly and it is important to remind yourself that this tragedy was an exception.
  • Get the information you need – Reach out to your child’s school to ensure there are good safety measures in place.
  • Step back from media reports – Any overwhelming informational stream can increase anxiety and heartache.
  • Listen to your children before you speak – Ask what your children have heard and how it makes them feel. If your children don’t speak about it, begin the conversation and ask open-ended questions.
  • Discuss the safety measures you take in your own home and at school to protect your children from harm.
  • Check in with your child when they get home from school – Ask open-ended questions to see what they’ve learned or how they’re feeling and continue to check in over the next few weeks.

Dr. Swanson also offers advice to parents about how they can work to improve safety for their children.

“We can and will work towards a safer future for our children,” said Dr. Swanson in her blog. “Don’t ease up on yourself or those in your community for action – improved communication, access to mental health, examining gun control – as months unfold. The future comes quickly. Today and tomorrow are about the ongoing effort to bolster yourself and your child in feeling great about the days ahead, in and out of school at the mall, wherever you find yourselves.”

Visit the Teenology 101 blog for tips on talking to teens about the Sandy Hook school shooting.