Why “use your words” isn’t a Helpful Phrase in Parenting

Your child comes running to you. They are crying. They throw themselves on the floor and flail
their arms and legs. You don’t know what happened or what started this behavior. You pick them
up, pull them to you, and they continue. At this point, you utter one of the most common phrases
a parent knows, “use your words”. The intent of this phrase is to better understand what your
child is experiencing so can better attend to their need. Unfortunately, when this behavior is
occurring, your child is not able to use their words as they have moved from their thinking brain
into their emotion brain (limbic system). In this emotion part of the brain, logic and words hold
no meaning. Instead, connection and validation is the language that needs to be heard.

Importance of Co-regulation
During a tantrum, there are two main tasks for parents; 1) keep yourself calm and 2) help your
child get calm. What’s even better than only having two tasks, if you can complete task 1 often
task 2 will happen automatically. This is called co-regulation. Through co-regulation you are
actively showing (not telling) your child how to calm their emotions. The reason co-regulation
works is because of mirror neurons in our brain. In a general sense, the mirror neurons take on
the behaviors/actions of another person and makes it their own. For children, if they see their
parent taking slow deep breaths, they will begin to take slow deep breaths as well. On the flip
side, if our child sees us become increasingly frustrated, this will only feed into their tantrum.
Co-regulation needs to continue until your child is fully calmed down. This can take a while
which is why task 1, keep yourself calm, is so important. You will know when your child is and
calming down (and moving out of their emotion brain) when they can follow a small, benign
direction like “can you grab a tissue for me?”. Once your child is calm (regulated), a discussion
about what happened and the emotion they were experiencing can be had. This is a good time to
start planning with your child behaviors they can do when experiencing different large emotions.
Many times our children do not know options for behavior around large emotions which is why
tantrums occur.

Keeping Yourself Calm
There is no one right way to keep yourself calm. What one method works for you may not work
for your spouse or the parent down the street. A skill that worked for you on the first three
tantrums may not work on the 4th or 18th. Create a set of skills and practice during calm times so
that when your child builds into a tantrum, you are prepared and ready. Below are 7 common
skills to keep you calm:

  • Take deep breaths. This keeps your blood pressure low and gives the sensation of calm.
    Start with a breath in for 5 counts and hold 5 counts. Then breathe out 5 counts and hold 5 counts. Repeat as needed.
  • Hum your favorite tune in a slow and low tone. Lullabies are great for this as it mimics times that are quiet and comfortable.
  • Name what you can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. This is a skill for when you really are trying to stay focused and thinking.
  • Mantras such as “I am relaxed, I am calm”, “Breath in, I calm my body. Breath out, I calm my mind”, and “This is only temporary” helps you to remember your primary task.
  • Grab a snack for yourself and your child. Staying calm takes energy. Food gives energy. When giving food to your child don’t ask if they want to eat it just hand them something you know they like. If they refuse that’s ok.
  • Do a body scan. Close your eyes and find where your muscles are clenched and purposefully un-clench.
  • Switch off with another adult. If this is a particularly long meltdown, it is okay to take a break, grab a glass of water, and share the emotional load.

If you fail in keeping your calm, just remember to give yourself some grace. No parent in the
history of the world has been able to stay calm for 100% of their child’s tantrums. When the
calm returns to the home, because it will, enjoy the calm and plan for next time. Work with your
child on developing skills to manage their emotions. Alongside teaching them “a cow goes moo
and a duck says quack”, teach them “when I’m angry I take a deep breath and when I am
confused I ask for help”. These are all skills to learn and learning takes practice and repetition.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Christina Maki, MS, LMFT

Social Media: Setting Boundaries with your Child

In today’s world, there is virtually no escape from technology and social media. From infancy to adulthood, there is an application for almost everything. Infants and toddlers are drawn to bright lights, vivid colors, and melodic tunes. Older children enjoy testing their skills and having opportunities to create, with more advanced games like MineCraft or FortNite.  Before you know it, your child is requesting their own social media account. They may want to join Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, or one of the countless others. As a parent, what do you do?  

Set Boundaries 

As a parent, it is necessary to set boundaries for your child. Parents are responsible for making sure their children are appropriately dressed, clean, eat balanced meals, educated, and are taught to act responsibly. Responsible use of technology is no different, in that it too requires appropriately setting of boundaries.  

  • Model Appropriate Use: As a parent, we are models of behavior for our children. This requires demonstrating moderation and responsible sharing of photos and personal information.  There’s an opportunity here to have a discussion about what is deemed appropriate and reminding our children of the everlasting effects of what they share on social media. 

  • Supervision: Parents should be able to supervise their children’s use and interactions on social media. This will require the parent to have full access to their children’s usernames and passwords to all social media accounts. Children will often resist this boundary wanting to have their privacy. While their desire for privacy is valid, safety is most important.  

  • Obligations Come First: Any and all responsibilities should be complete before using social media. This includes homework, chores, and other miscellaneous tasks that are assigned.  

  • Respect: Demand that children always remain respectful on social media. Cyber-bullying is a real thing. Teaching children that the internet is not an acceptable place to put others “on blast” when they are angry or upset. While the internet may seem like a safe or anonymous place to vent frustrations, there are very real consequences for inappropriate postings. 

Now what? 

Now that you have set appropriate boundaries, it should be smooth sailing from here, right? I am afraid not. Adolescents are smart and crafty. They are notoriously gifted at finding loopholes to their parents’ rules and boundaries. There are a few things to remember when you are trying to monitor your tween or teen’s use of social media.  

  • E-mail: Signing up for an e-mail account is far too easy for a young person to do. They can easily lie about age for consent or access. This means that your child MAY be able to sign up for an e-mail account without your approval or without your awareness, and thus, may have access to content that is inappropriate. 

  • Second Accounts: So, what would a teen do with an e-mail account that mom and dad don’t know about? Sign up for other social media accounts that mom and dad don’t know about of course! It is not uncommon for a teen to have multiple usernames for various social media platforms. There is the “family friendly” account that is monitored meticulously by mom or dad that the teen can post most of their information.  However, there is often a second, separate, account that parents may not know about that is used for friends. These second accounts tend to have more personal information or thoughts, and can hold more concerning information, such as posts alluding to depression, drug use, or other unhealthy behaviors.  

  • Alternate Devices: Some parents will use their teens phone or electronic devices as a way to impose consequences. While this is often a very effective punishment, teens will find ways around these restrictions. Teens will sometimes turn to their friends to be able to access their social media accounts from their device, particularly if they have an account that mom and dad are unaware of and are unable to monitor.  

So, what is the Bottom Line?  

Bottom line, it is going to take a good relationship with your teen to be able to effectively monitor their use of social media. As a parent, you should be setting boundaries, meaning you should model good use of social media, have access to their accounts, make sure that their responsibilities are met, and ensure they are interacting with others respectfully. However, many adolescents thirst for their freedom and privacy and may feel that they need to have their own accounts. Given the ease of access, signing up for an additional account is tantalizing. 

Additional Resources:



Emotional Responding


RespondingMost people do not listen with the intent to understand.  Most people listen with the intent to reply.”

– Stephen R. Covey

Do you know how to respond to the emotional needs of others?  Consider your relationships for a moment, your friends, family members, children or partner.  Do you feel that you are able to respond to their emotional needs?

Every person has emotional needs which they seek fulfillment for.  Some can be met on your own or with the help from someone else.  Consider the following needs both for yourself and for those you are in a relationship with:

  • To be loved, trusted, comforted, confident, respected, needed, believed, wanted, listened to
  • To belong, relax, trust, love
  • Spiritual needs
  • Intimacy needs

In responding to the emotional needs of others, the following would be unhelpful approaches:

  • Neglect “you can figure it out on your own”
  • Criticism “lighten up, it’s not that bad”
  • Advice “next time you should…”
  • Minimize “it’s really not that big of a deal”
  • Anger “that makes me so mad!”
  • Self-reflection “that happened to me once”
  • Complaints “that was so embarrassing”
  • Avoidance – using humor to change the subject

Responding to emotional needs in the following ways would be more helpful to those you care about:

  • Listen for their need- which one is are looking for to be met?
  • Listen carefully- give them your full attention, do not do something else at the same time you are attempting to listen.  This will make the other person feel dismissed.  As you listen be sure that you are understanding.
  • Listen more- take in what they are saying, do not formulate a response in your head as they are speaking.  Reflect back what they are saying, this will help them to feel heard.
  • Respond- show empathy, meet their need, do not make it about yourself! Use feeling words to communicate, “I am sorry you had to go through such sadness.”  Ask questions when appropriate; what do you need from me or what I can I do to be helpful?

These ideas just scratch the surface on meeting the needs of others in a healthy manner.  We will continue to look at this topic in depth in future blog posts.  For now, try to implement these techniques with a loved one and pay attention to the results!


Additional Resources:


https://fvinstitute.com/mayjune-newsletter/ ADHD



Recognizing Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Research tells us that about 80% of women will experience normal feelings of sadness and anxiety within the first few weeks of delivery. Some women may experience more clinically significant symptoms of anxiety, depression, obsessions and compulsions, and psychosis. One in seven women may suffer from more serious symptoms of depression or anxiety. Dads and other partners are also susceptible; one in ten men may experience postpartum depression. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders can begin at any time during or after pregnancy; including in the case of a loss of pregnancy.

These symptoms may look unexpected:

  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Insomnia
  • Hypervigilance
  • Drug and/or alcohol dependence

If you think you may be suffering from a perinatal mood disorder, please know that you are not alone, that you are not to blame, and that you can be well again.

Many of the mothers that I have encountered since becoming a clinical therapist have echoed the relief I experienced when we agree on the challenge of parenthood and the realistic toll that a newborn can take on one’s psyche.

When I was two weeks postpartum with my first child, I walked into a “Mommy & Me Support Group” hoping to see a handful of other mothers that looked just like me: sleep deprived, spit up on my shoulder, hair in a messy bun and yoga pants. I hoped that I would be validated in my struggle; to learn that I was not alone in feeling like I had just entered into the hardest time period of my life. Luckily, I was met with the warm smile of a social worker who informed me that although I had mistaken the time of the class, that she’d be happy to sit down and talk one-on-one with me. An hour later, I walked away feeling lighter and relieved to know that the range of feelings I was experiencing were all normal and to be expected.

After several weeks of attending my local hospital’s “Mommy & Me” support group as a new mother, I felt emboldened by learning from the collective knowledge of the group, validated by seeing others with bags under their eyes, and hopeful in seeing mothers with older babies who were getting more sleep. If you or a loved one has recently given birth or received a child by adoption, my hope for you is that you’ve found a place to be validated and encouraged. If you are struggling with more severe symptoms and think you may be suffering from a perinatal mood disorder, please consider making an appointment to begin healing today.

Kate can be reached by phone at 630.718.0171, ext. 223 or email kate@fvinstitute.com



Additional resources:




Kate Spade’s Death Sparks Light on Mental Health Awareness

“She leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes”, was Kate Spade’s desire for those who invested in her brand and was the je ne sais quoi she hoped to inspire. Kate, herself, exemplified this in her many contributions.  

On Tuesday, June 5th, media outlets inundated the public with the breaking news: Kate Spade had taken her own life. As a designer, an entrepreneur, and a philanthropist, Kate Spade was a quintessential icon of classic style, vision, and grace.

The investigation into Kate Spade’s suicide is ongoing. Details are being revealed indicating that she suffered for years with mental health issues. It remains unclear as to the finite details of her mental health struggles, but the fact remains: the signs had been missed.

To many, she was a woman who had it all – money, fame, success, family – but it only goes to show that mental illness can impact anyone. In a world where it’s easy to become immersed in the fast-paced routine of life, mental health often takes a backseat. Over the years, attempts have been made to diminish the stigma surrounding mental health, but the stigma still exists. In recent years, we see more public figures and celebrities openly addressing their personal struggles with mental illness. Their openness reminds those who may be in a similar situation that they are not alone and encourages them to seek support.

Kate Spade’s death brings us back to a crucial discussion of mental health being as important as taking care of our physical health. Suicide ranks amongst the top ten leading causes of death in this country. Suicidal thoughts are not signs of weakness.  With the proper support and treatment, suicidal thoughts and behaviors can be reduced. With National Mental Health Awareness Month being observed in May; the work to break the stigma should not end there. Simply raising awareness is not enough; we need to center our efforts on what we can do to support and connect those in need to the proper services.  

In her life, Kate Spade created a legacy for individuals of all ages and backgrounds with exuberating passion, confidence, and optimism. In her death, her legacy sparks a call for action towards emphasizing the importance of mental health and working towards prevention. Let’s honor and celebrate her life in this way.


A Special Tribute to Kate Spade from the Writer:

Simron Sahoo – FVI Guest Blogger

I purchased my first Kate Spade handbag this past year during my senior year of college.  Had given me a gift card for my birthday, my friends knew how much I adored the elegance of both the bags and the brand.  When I made my first Kate Spade purchase, I relished in the excitement of the years I spent admiring her sophisticated and classy bags – where simplicity met style.  This purchase represented more than buying an accessory.  A Kate Spade purse was not simply just a purse – it was a symbol of venturing out into adulthood.   When I heard the news of Kate Spade’s passing, I couldn’t believe it. Not only was she my favorite designer, but she also embodied a feministic vision, becoming a pioneer for women in the professional world.

Her presence impacted my life.  She will be missed, but her legacy will live on.


For many survivors of suicide loss, the journey of healing can be lonely, painful, and confusing. At Fox Valley Institute, we understand this struggle and we are here for you.  We offer a Bereavement Support Group for adults who have lost a loved one through suicide that meets the second and fourth Saturday of each month from 8:00 am – 9:00 am. Please call 630.718.0717, ext. 240 to be added to the bereavement email list and click here for additional resources.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of the warning signs of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Visit afsp.org for more information on warning signs and suicide prevention.








Simron Sahoo, FVI Guest Blogger
B.S. Psychology 2018, Minors in Neuroscience, Math, and Biology
Loyola University Chicago


Additional Resources







What is Your Love Language?

Are you familiar with Gary Chapman’s couple’s resource, “The Five Love Languages?” This book is a simple, yet powerful tool for learning how to better communicate with your partner through each other’s love languages.  You can find more information on Chapman’s website:



Chapman will educate you on the five main love languages he has uncovered; words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch.  First, you and your partner will be directed to take an assessment to determine your primary love language.  From there, you will want to read more on your partner’s love language, gain a better understanding of it, and learn helpful tips on how to fulfill their love language. Don’t be surprised if you and your partner do not share the same love language.

Words of Affirmation are validating words said to your partner to help them feel good and validated within the relationship.  For example: “I appreciate you.” “You look great in that new dress!” “You always make such a great dinner.”

Acts of Service are meaningful things done for your partner. For example, emptying the dishwasher because it is their least favorite chore, hanging up your coat when you come home, or making the bed every morning.  These may not be your most favorite things to do, but you are doing them for your partner so they feel loved.

Receiving Gifts, even small ones can go a long way to make your partner feel loved.  For example, a handwritten card saying I love you tucked in her purse or flowers you picked up on your way home ‘just because’ are great gifts that will help your partner feel loved.

Physical Touch, reaching out and grabbing your partner’s hand or sneaking them an unexpected kiss.  Physical touch may be important to your partner and being neglectful of this can lead to feelings of rejection or resentment.

Quality Time, is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.  For some people, quality time is their primary love language and if you don’t give them quality time, they will not feel loved. For example, your partner values when you put aside 30 minutes after a long day to spend time with them or simply putting your cell phone down while you are together.

Click here to learn your love language!




Additional Resources:


Five Ways to Fire Up Your Sex Life

Women, are you seeking emotional support from your partner?  Men, are you craving to feel desired and appreciated? Below are steps couples can easily integrate into their daily lives to get things sizzling and improve intimacy.



  1. Fan The Flames By Flirting

Flirt with each other throughout the day. Start thinking of foreplay as more than just physical touch or direct assertions. Consider how to display affection to your partner through your everyday actions based on their Love Language. (Not sure what your Love Languages are? Take the test here: www.5lovelanguages.com)


  1. Create Sparks By Using Physical Contact

Practice non-assuming touch. Find ways to come into physical contact with your partner throughout the day that does not assume that you are initiating sex. Gently rub their back while you walk past them, brush their hair away from their face, touch their hand while you’re talking, offer a foot or back massage. Give your partner a full kiss and hug at each parting and greeting.


  1. Keeping Things Hot

Sex really does start in the kitchen. One way of increasing your sense of closeness is to complete shared responsibilities and tasks together to reinforce the security of the relationship. Studies show that women who feel that their partner equally contributes around the house are more sexually satisfied. Women in turn can find ways throughout the day of expressing appreciation and desire for their partner.


  1. Make It Steamy In The Bedroom

Create a sanctuary in your bedroom. You know that iconic scene in movies where the couple pushes off all the paperwork on the desk and makes love in the messy office? My experience working with couples leads me to believe that is unrealistic. Create a space in your bedroom that allows you to focus on nothing but you and your partner. Remove any work, reading materials, televisions or computers. Close the closet if it is not organized. Bring any laundry to the laundry room and if necessary throw that laundry off the bed!


  1. Igniting The Passion With Self Care

Take care of yourself.  Stress prevents us from being truly present with one another. When our mind is in a tizzy, our body doesn’t get the message to relax. Encourage one another to practice self-care, such as taking time for individual therapy, massage, exercise, or enjoying a hobby.







Kate Fish, LMFT

                                                            To read her full bio please click here.

Related articles:








An Expert Interview About Discovering Your Vision


Dr. Laura Bokar, LCPC, LMFT, ACS

Fox Valley Institute


Dr. Laura Bokar is the CEO and Founder of the Fox Valley Institute. She started FVI with one person (herself), and now has a phenomenal team of experienced therapists with many different specialties. In the world of therapy, she is quite a visionary and advocate for the community.



Her unique philosophy revolves around the principles of “Growth & Contribution.”

Dr. Laura has learned that fulfillment in life and business is found in relationships. Most counseling sessions revolve around the relationships in the patients’ lives; there’s often hurt or need for repair in relationships, whether it is a spouse, parent, sibling, friend, co-worker, or boss. Nearly everyone wants to connect or love someone(s), and this is an important part of being fulfilled in life. Two other aspects that create truly fulfilled people are continued growth and contribution. Growth can occur through literature, education, and/or trying new experiences. Contribution allows individuals to give back to a community, organization, and/or person. When one loves, grows, and contributes that person finds true fulfillment. Incorporate those values in your business, and it will not only provide fulfillment, but a well-respected business in your area of expertise and in your community.

When faced with any challenge, Dr. Laura knows how to “seek direction from people she trusts before stepping into uncertainty.”

With over two decades of experience as a marriage and family therapist, Dr. Laura was able to “see the needs in the profession that were not being filled.” Her understanding of the needs progressed as she grew in her career. Before she began her new journey of building Fox Valley Institute she received counsel from people she trusted.  She then decided to move forward.  She was confident in moving forward into her new adventure of uncertainty and created a practice that has made her a genuine trailblazer in her field.

“It’s about innovation! What else is out there that will help the process of wellness?”

Research shows that “clients leave with the therapist’s values.”  At Fox Valley Institute, the therapists work hard to care for themselves and maintain a balanced life. This means following what it takes to have a fulfilled life – creating healthy relationships, growing, and contributing. Dr. Laura is intentional about having healthy relationships in the practice. They resolve conflicts, have direct communication, and celebrate with each other. In their team meetings, they learn about the newest innovative techniques, inform each other on the latest research and discuss organizations in the Naperville community that can help them help others. Fox Valley Institute also gives back to the community in many ways; they support many organizations financially, volunteer their time and talents, and provide an opportunity for the next generation of therapists by supervising interns.

She encourages women to “acknowledge the potential and gifts in themselves and in others.”

Dr. Laura is constantly learning.  She thirsts for knowledge so that she can contribute to individuals, families, companies, and the community she loves. She understands that life is a generous gift, and no matter one’s age or position the most fulfilled lives have healthy relationships, growth opportunities, and contributions to society.

TO-DO:  Discover your Vision; Seek Counsel from People You Trust; Develop a Plan; Take the Risk by Jumping into the World of Uncertainty; Create the Opportunity Your Heart has been Calling You Towards; Continue to Grow; and, Generously Give Back!

By: Erin Doepel Wikstrom, CFP®

Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC Raymond James is not affiliated with Dr. Laura Bokar or Fox Valley Institute.



Additional information you may find of interest:







Are You Analyzing Me Right Now?

When people ask me what I do for a living and hear that I’m a Clinical Psychologist, I often hear “Are you analyzing me right now?” I often laugh, but secretly wish that I had the kind of mental powers that the X-Men’s Professor Xavier has to get inside people’s heads. Or maybe Luke Skywalker’s Jedi mind tricks!  Even though I don’t have those special powers, I do have some unique tools.  Kind of like what Batman has in his tool belt.  These tools allow me to help people understand themselves in new ways so they can pursue healthy relationships, get the treatment they need, and/or thrive in school and work settings. These tools are a range of cutting-edge psychological tests that can be used in a variety of ways. Here are some examples of the psychological assessments we provide at the Fox Valley Institute:


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Evaluations

The 6-year-old boy ran out to the waiting room after a morning of testing to excitedly tell his mom about the colored blocks he assembled, the funny headband he wore during a boring test, and the pictures he drew during the assessment. Unbeknownst to him, these various tasks were helping us to understand whether he has ADHD and learning problems. For parents and teachers concerned about problems with concentration and with constantly being “on the go,” we can use cutting edge technologies to clarify how normative this is and what interventions may be helpful.

Intelligence and Achievement Testing

The young adult anxiously considered going to college after taking a semester off following her high school graduation. She acknowledged that she had struggled with test taking throughout middle and high school, and wondered if this would continue to be a problem if she went on to college. Through the use of intelligence and achievement tests, we were able to determine that she would indeed be able to succeed if given accommodations such as having extra time and a quiet setting to take her tests. Encouraged to advocate for herself with the use of this testing report, she considered new possibilities for her future.

Diagnostic Evaluations

The teenager and her parents expressed some surprise and relief at the results. In various ways they expressed, “Now I get why that medication and therapy wasn’t helping!” After several attempts to treat a certain mental health diagnosis with a particular type of medication, the psychological assessment led to a different conclusion about what diagnosis best described the teenager’s struggles. This allowed us to collaborate with her psychiatrist and therapist to modify her treatment.

Personality Assessments

His wife smiled and gave him a knowing glance; he grimaced a little but nodded in agreement too. We were part way through the husband’s assessment feedback session when the couple seemed to understand each other in a new way. With a fuller description of his personality, the husband was better able to articulate some of the reasons why he responds to his wife in the way he does, and she offered more acceptance rather than frustration in knowing this. They expressed new hope in returning to their marital therapy after having felt “stuck” for some time.

Adoption Evaluations

The couple eagerly entered the office, thinking months ahead about traveling overseas to meet their adoptive child. As part of the long list of appointments and paperwork they were enduring to get to that joyful destination, they participated in a brief personality assessment to confirm that they were psychologically fit to be adoptive parents. The test results were an opportunity to celebrate the unique strengths they could offer their new family member, as well as be aware of some areas that may be more challenging for them as their family expanded.

For more information about psychological testing, please contact Dr. Brian Post at 630-718-0717 x 208 or drbrian@fvinstitute.com. Self pay and Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance accepted.

Additional information you may find of interest:







Open Letter: Fox Valley Institute Stands by Those Affected By Tragedy

Joe Dubowski, MS, LMFT

Responding to the Shooting in Las Vegas

Our country, and the world, has been racked with pain over the last week and a half as we’ve heard about the horrible mass shooting that occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nearly 60 people had their lives taken that night and hundreds more suffered gunshot wounds and other injuries requiring hospitalization. Stories of heroism, as well as tragedy have been shared, and for days the event has been at the forefront of the media’s attention. Repeated video exposure of the gunfire and people running in fear for their lives has made us vicariously experience the horror and brought the impact of the shooting in our own homes and workplaces. The effects of the shooting, as a result, go much farther than just those present that evening who lived through it.

For this reason, it is fitting for us to write about what we can do in response to this event to protect ourselves from its negative effects. Having lived through such an event myself, as a father of one of the victims of such a shooting, I am aware of the trauma brought on by such events. As a mental health professional, I can offer some advice to help you cope with this news, as well as provide practical help for those who experienced it first or second hand.

Suggestions for Those Affected Second Hand

First of all, we can all benefit by protecting ourselves from over-exposure to the messages and images that maintain the presence of this tragedy in our lives. We can do this, by turning off our televisions and radios when coverage of the shooting is part of the broadcast. The risk to our well-being from seeing and hearing the story over and over again far outweighs the benefit of keeping up with the latest in the death toll and details about the shooter. The repeating of the story and thinking of what happened on an hourly or even daily basis can exaggerate our sense that the world is a dangerous place. This has the potential to increase our anxiety, distrust, anger, and depression.

Instead, focus on what is going on in your own life and in your own community, giving thanks for what is good and pleasant in your life, and by working on improving those things in your personal life that are meaningful to you. For most of us, the world is a much more beautiful and harmonious place than the news media communicates. We are not criticizing the news media; we are merely saying that their job is not to give us the complete picture that we actually need to live by. It is up to us to put the news in perspective.

Suggestions for Those Affected First Hand

For those who know people whose lives were directly affected by the shooting and want to know how to help and support them, here are a few helpful things to keep in mind and to do:

  • Grief is a normal reaction to losses of many kinds. It is not a flaw or weakness. Grieving people are not broken (though their hearts may feel that way). Thus, grieving people do not need to be fixed; they need to be listened to with respect, kindness, and empathy.
  • Each loss is unique. Comparing what you have been through with what they are feeling is like comparing apples with motorcycles. Similarly, being told by someone “I know how you feel” shuts down conversation and does nothing to help the person you want to help. It can lead that person to feel more isolated and discourages them from telling their story.
  • Many grieving people want to tell their story. They just haven’t found the person who will show an interest and have the ability to listen (without analyzing, giving advice, or comparing losses). If someone you care about does not want to talk, that is also okay. Just let them know you care and will be there when they need you. Then be sure to be there when they reach out.
  • Avoid clichés. Time worn and inaccurate statements like “Just keep busy,” “You never get over the loss of a child,” and “It just takes time” may lead to putting off getting support when they really need the help and encouragement to heal.

Finally, be encouraged it is possible for people to recover from events such as the shooting in Las Vegas, to experience growth in their lives, a deepening of relationships, and a greater appreciation for the daily blessings of life. It is our hope at Fox Valley Institute that you will experience these things in your life, and feel confident in knowing you can always call on us.