DEAR HARRIETTE: My 12-year-old daughter has been waking up recently with terrible dreams. She falls asleep and then wakes up believing that someone has just entered a public area where she is and opened fire. The most recent place was at the hairdresser, but this dream has been recurring now for a few months. How can I get her to feel more at ease? With so much violence going on in the news these days, it's hard to shield her from the current events that are fueling her fears. -- Seeking Safety, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SEEKING SAFETY: When your daughter comes to you after a bad dream, listen to everything she says and comfort her by letting her know that you hear her. Do not dismiss her fears. Instead, acknowledge her worries and then help to quiet them by pointing out whatever safety measures exist in the various public areas she mentions. These could be locks on doors, friendly people who work there, etc.
Limit your daughter's exposure to the daily news. The more she hears and sees, the more she will be afraid. When atrocities occur and she is aware of them, talk them through. Explain that there are some people in the world who do unimaginable things. These are the stories we are hearing these days. To reduce being exposed to people who do bad things, remind your daughter to follow school protocol, to travel in pairs and to keep in close touch with you, especially if she feels unsafe.