Tatiana responds to Mom of DES Kid afraid to go to school

Dear Tatiana,

My daughter attends Dunwoody Elementary and was so scared yesterday with the level three alert and having to hide from a potential intruder. Lots of her friends treated it like a game and it didn’t affect them at all. Although I’ve reassured her that the teachers are going to keep her safe, she refused to go to school today. I hope that the long break for Thanksgiving will diminish the scary memories by the time school starts back on the 26th. Meanwhile, what can I do during the break to help reassure her and get her ready for school on 11/26?

Thanks so much for offering this service.



Dear Anonymous,

I am delayed in my response to your question, but with a re-occurrence of this issue in our Dunwoody community today, I thought better late than never.

Validate your daughters fear. Her experience was real. Explain the situation with developmentally appropriate and the least amount of wording. (When tough conversations need to be had, sometimes it is beneficial to write out talking points before hand.) Answer her questions, but don’t provide more than what she asked for. She needs to understand that the call was not a true threat, but an inappropriate prank that could result in someone being arrested.

If she is indicating she does not want to go back to school, create a re-introduction plan that empowers her with choices. Does she want to walk into the school by herself the next school day or would she like you to walk in with her? Would she like to walk to her classroom by herself or would she like you to walk her to her classroom? Does she want you to review with her the schools safety system and how it keeps kids safe or would she like you to walk her through it at school? Would she like for you to swing in for lunch with her that day or does she want to eat lunch alone? If she becomes upset at school, who does she want her “safe person” to be? Her “safe person” is where she can go and talk, receive support and be reassured of her safety. Does she want it to be the principal, the school counselor or another adult at school? Make sure you contact the school counselor in advance to describe the situation, discuss your plan and confirm their support.

May all of our sweethearts feel safe and at peace in their schools.


Tatiana Matthews LPC

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