(847) 497- 8378 drweisz@copingpartners.com

Dr. Leigh Weisz  5:09

Yeah, it depends if you are with them or not. So if you are with them, then presumably, you know, kind of what they saw. But you certainly could just be curious and ask, today was a really scary day, what, you know, what did you notice? Or what? What’s on your mind? So just asking a question. Trying to validate their feelings, like if they say it was very scary, mommy, right, keeping it developmentally appropriate and short explanations, if it’s a younger child, if it’s an older child, obviously, they’re going to have more questions. And it’s okay to go there with them, but not to introduce your own feelings. Really ask them, What are you struggling with, tell me what’s on your mind. You also just want to reaffirm safety right away, you know, making sure that they feel safe to share their feelings and process but that they know they’re safe. Now, luckily, the in this case, the shooter was, you know, empty handed. So that’s kind of helpful to be able to say, right, like, the immediate danger is,

Jeremy Weisz  6:15

is over. Yeah, and you said something about not introducing other things. What did you mean by that? Well,

Dr. Leigh Weisz  6:28

we have so much information at our fingertips, whether it’s on the phone or on the TV, or, you know, the internet. And so I think it’s very important, for example, not to replay the footage over and over and over. Because oftentimes, that’s more traumatic to kids them, you know, what they experienced, and they don’t really understand the idea of it looping. So it’s really like their, their, their limbic system is experiencing that fight, flight or freeze over and over and over as though they’re in danger now, right? Every time they view that footage, so it’s important to understand that this was a really scary event, but that there was a start and an end. Right, and not to make it sound like it’s on repeat.

Jeremy Weisz  7:18

So for people who were were there, what if the kids are asking questions? How do you address that without introducing more information?

Dr. Leigh Weisz  7:32

Well, I mean, I guess it’s, it depends on what they’re asking, right? I’m not, it really depends. In other words, you want to understand what their fears are. So let them ask the questions. And then you can figure out right, if it’s something you can answer or not, but sometimes you don’t answer their questions, sometimes you just validate the feelings, or the fear or the experience and let them process. So one of the best ways of healing is to allow them to process their feelings to cry to just to be together with you, as opposed to doing it alone. That goes for adults too, by the way, so we all are better off when we process in community, in groups. And if they aren’t ready to process, that’s okay, too, right. But you’re just giving them the permission that they can when they’re ready, some people actually get kind of numb, and are not able to cry and are not able to go there right away after a stressor after a trauma. And that’s also very normal. And in fact, we’re wired for a couple of different physiological responses. So we don’t want to make people feel badly if they’re maybe not able to cry or feeling a little bit in shock. And the opposite is true to some people may be having difficulty sleeping or really be, you know, fearful. And that’s also very understandable, you know, when we’ve experienced a trauma like this.

Jeremy Weisz  9:00

So, you know, obviously, people who are there experienced that. What about, you know, kids who are going to camp or school and they hear about this? How should the parents talk to the kids who maybe weren’t, weren’t there, but maybe they were affected by someone who was there? Or maybe not, maybe they’re in, you know, Florida watching it, and then they have the, the child finds out about it, and they have to have a conversation about how should the parent approach that conversation?

Dr. Leigh Weisz  9:36

Again, I think you want to find out, right, where they’re struggling. So again, if it’s an adolescent, for example, they may have deeper questions like, you know, how could God let this happen? Right? Could this happen again, right? You want to understand what they’re feeling and like just let them name that feeling? And then help sit with it a little bit. So feel the feelings with allow them to be, you know, able to share their concerns. And then sometimes, you know, not right away, but it’s helpful to ask them what they want to do right with their feelings. What would help them make, you know, what would make them feel better? So a call to action. So it might be that they want to write a letter, you know, to a police officer thanking him for his bravery, right? It could be an action step like that. It could just be I want to, you know, run around the blocks together and not think about it, you know, but helping them figure out what’s going to help them get through this.

Jeremy Weisz  10:39

Yeah, so what would make them feel better?

Dr. Leigh Weisz  10:42

You have to ask them. Yeah. In other words, it’s a personal decision for each person.

Jeremy Weisz  10:48

What about moms or dads? Who were there? And how should they process this? With for themselves? Yeah, I

Dr. Leigh Weisz  11:03

mean, as adults, again, they’ve, we’ve all experienced a trauma in a way. And so helping the adults process their feelings without the kids present is also important, you know, the idea of putting on your own oxygen mask first. So that we can be in a state of calm to provide that, that feeling of safety for our children, because we certainly can’t do it if we’re not feeling that way ourselves, which isn’t to say, we have to be perfectly calm and collected, we could also model saying, I’m feeling a little shaken up from what happened, how about you? Right? We don’t have to be sort of feeling perfect. But it is important to give adults space to process and again, in community. We always want to process with others, cry with others, you know, share our feelings with others. That’s really, really important.

Jeremy Weisz  11:49

What do you do if, you know, I don’t know, subconsciously or consciously, the child says, something like, I don’t want to go to another parade, or I don’t want to go to a concert, because they associate a gathering now with mass chaos and something like that.

Dr. Leigh Weisz  12:11

Sure. I mean, I think that’s totally natural, right? That in the immediate aftermath of a trauma, they may not feel safe yet to do kind of normative things. And I would certainly understand that and invalidate it. And I would say something like, you know, yeah, I get that maybe we don’t want to, you know, go to the parade tomorrow, if there’s a parade coming up, but maybe in time, we’ll feel differently. So the idea that, right now, this is where we’re at, right? It’s pretty fresh. But this may not sort of be how it is forever, right? We’re going to kind of heal and get to it to a different place, hopefully. Because right now, it’s a trauma we’re grieving. We’re stuck. But the idea is that time does sort of sort of he’ll

Jeremy Weisz  13:02

What Are there any other questions that you feel will be important to talk about? That maybe you’ve gotten today from friends or family? Or that you feel like you will get?

Dr. Leigh Weisz  13:18

Question, you know, common questions, you’re saying that people will have exactly. I think just how are we going to be as parents able to, you know, to kind of move forward because this has been really scary for everybody. And I think like exactly what you were just saying it’s normal to want to avoid, right having to deal with all of this. And it’s going to take time. But the idea that we will get there as a community and we will we will heal together. We cannot protect our kids also from everything. So I think lying to your kids, you know, if they ask you questions, is not right. Like I know, some parents said they told their kids that they were fireworks instead of gunshots. I don’t necessarily think that’s doing them any favors, right? Because they kind of know they sense when we’re fibbing a little bit. Which is different than telling every detail of the horrors that happened. That’s not helpful either. But, but again, the idea is, even though we can’t shield them from it all, trying to give them a sense of safety. Right now, like it happened, it was super scary. Talking maybe about the heroes to like the doctors who stepped up and the policemen and the firemen and the you know, everyone who the store owners, right, who opened up their stores and helps people get to safety. So kind of thinking about what are the positive aspects we can sort of think about? Because that provides parents, children, everyone in the community with sort of sense of hope to

Jeremy Weisz  14:49

so in that situation. At what point do you say well I guess if you’re saying you don’t want to make something up in that scenario, is the the child asking what that was? Or?

Dr. Leigh Weisz  15:09

Yeah, yeah, like if they heard the gunshots presumably at the at the parade, right? You could certainly say there was a bad person out there, right? And I heard gunshots, right? We need to get to safety. Right? And then good news, right? He’s been captured, we are safe. That was super scary, but we’re safe. So it’s validating that that was a very scary thing. There are certainly we know, bad people in the world. But we also want to understand and help our kids understand that that was a rare occurrence. Right? That does not happen, usually. And that, you know, again, even if it’s on the media, right, the idea that that we are safe, that that was a very rare thing, even though we know, mass shootings are happening more than we want them to be happening, for sure. It’s still not something, you know, that’s happening on a day to day basis for each child and each community. So the idea that they are safe, we want them to be able to go to school and play in parks, and not have to worry day to day about their safety.

Jeremy Weisz  16:13

Yeah. Yeah, so if there’s any other common questions, but I do, you know, wanna give a shout out and thank the people that helped in this crazy situation, like the first responders, the police, the fire department, the people, the EMTs. And also Dr. Baum, who delivered our baby was there and he was all over the news. And he was, you know, helping people. And he was talking on the news, how he heard it. And his first response was to wait, and then not to run, but to wait to help as a physician.

Dr. Leigh Weisz  17:03

Right. So those are the uplifting stories, definitely, that make us feel a sense of hope that there are good people making differences, right, coming together.

Jeremy Weisz  17:14

Anyone else? Any other resources people to check out or anything else? Again, I know we’re still processing this, but I figured people are asking you these questions. And we should just record something so that you can share it and people can listen to it after the fact.

Dr. Leigh Weisz  17:34

Yes, there’s a lot of great resources we can kind of post out there for just how to talk to children how to take care of yourselves. But the most important thing I would say is just to be together with other people right now, don’t process this by yourself.

Jeremy Weisz  17:50

So I know you had a couple resources and mentions. Yes,

Dr. Leigh Weisz  17:57

one of my dear colleagues and friends Colleen Siraj, who is a psychologist and a trauma expert, was just wonderfully helpful, both personally and professionally talking to me about the physiological responses to trauma and I just wanted to give her a shout out. She right away offered to help in any way. Also, a family friend Joel Kagan who has a jewelry store in Highland Park and you know right away didn’t didn’t hesitate to shelter people who needed to get safe in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Just so many wonderful, brave people out there, you know, helping.

Outro  18:42

Thank you for listening to The Coping Podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes and check out our podcast page at coping partners.com