Reacting to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting

The American Psychological Association sends its heartfelt condolences to the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting and their loved ones. APA also recognizes the career of school psychologist Mary Sherlach and mourns the loss of a member of the psychology community.

Tips for managing your distress in the aftermath of the shooting

You may be struggling to understand how a shooting could occur and why such a terrible thing would happen. There may never be satisfactory answers to these questions.

We do know, though, that it is typical for people to experience a variety of emotions following such a traumatic event. These feelings can include shock, sorrow, numbness, fear, anger, disillusionment, grief and others. You may find that you have trouble sleeping, concentrating, eating or remembering even simple tasks. You may feel that the world is a more dangerous place today than you did yesterday. It will take some time to recover your sense of equilibrium. Connecticut psychologist Elaine Ducharme shares her thoughts on making sense of this tragedy.

Tips for helping your children manage their distress

As a parent, you may be struggling with how to talk with your children about a shooting rampage. It is important to remember that children look to their parents to make them feel safe. This is true no matter what age your children are, be they toddlers, adolescents or even young adults.

Find times when they are most likely to talk, such as when riding in the car, before dinner, or at bedtime. Let them know you are interested in them and how they are coping with the information they are getting. Listen to their thoughts and point of view. Don't interrupt — allow them to express their ideas and understanding before you respond. Remind them you are there for them to provide safety, comfort and support.

Building resilience

Many people react to traumatic events with a flood of strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty. Yet people generally adapt well over time to life-changing situations and stressful conditions. What enables them to do so? It involves resilience, an ongoing process that requires time and effort and engages people in taking a number of steps. Learn how to take your own road to resilience.