Children worry, it’s a natural part of growing up. Some children worry more and some children we wish would worry more as they seem to have no sense of consequences at times. No matter the scale of worries it’s important to talk with your child about them.
Our children need to hear from us that everything will be ok, it’s just getting harder and hard to truly believe as a mom.
How to help your child cope with tragic events
Each of us at one point as a small child in time were sure there was a monster in our closet, under our bed or outside our window as a small child. I know you can remember that feeling of being scared.
Unfortunately, our children now have fears that extend outside of our homes to online predators, gunman in schools, movie theaters, marathons, concerts, and terrorists in airplanes to car accidents, hurricanes and earthquakes, and more I’m sure that I’ve failed to mention.
How can we tell them they’ll be safe with all of this on our heavy hearts to worry about?
As a mom, how can I promise my child everything will be ok?
Along with the nation, I heard the shocking news while my children are at school. My heart is broken to see the tragedy in Las Vegas last night. My thoughts as prayers are with each of the individuals who lost their lives and those who were wounded and on their road to recovery.
My heart is with those who left with wounds we’ll never be able to visually see just from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m so sorry this happened. There just simply are not words to express.
My girls are at school but I know as they come home this evening we’re going to have to have that conversation. I wish I could avoid it and help them to know they live in a safe bubble. But the reality is they will hear about it at school from someone. Whether it be a teacher with the best of intentions or a student peer to was allowed to see far too much of CNN 24 hour coverage of the latest tragic event.
Am I prepared to talk with them?
Regardless of the answers of why these events happen, this event and the others are changing the world that our children live in.
So where do we turn for tomorrow?
It starts now in our classrooms, neighborhoods and community groups.
With individuals becoming more and more internalized with using social media to connect with others, I hope that these tragic events remind each of us how important it is for us to connect with our local community.
UNPLUG from your social media and know your neighbors. If something seems off follow those instincts, those feelings of fear are ones you’re born with and are what keep us safe. That fear of monsters truth be told is pretty realistic as darkness does leave us vulnerable. If you can put an extra lock on your child’s windows with them or set an alarm, do so.
Look for events in your community that are new to you and your background, learn about the festivals with your child as you raise world citizens.
Get to know your neighbors
The past month I heard from many friends here in Florida and in Texas about how that week of being without power and tree limbs down to cut brought them out of their home and chatting with their neighbors more than ever. Some had just met for the first time. Don’t forget this feeling and continue to connect with one another.
Let’s all promise together to …..
Be the good.
Be the helper.
Be the voice.
Be the light.
But what happens when things change into feeling not so right?
I wish I didn’t have to write about this but as someone who worries everyday for the safety of children in my job and now as a mom of three, realistically I need to share with you my advice to help keep them safe and out of harms way.
There are bad people in the world and they don’t all look different from us or scary, many look and act just the way you’d expect a “normal person” to act. Remember those video training as a kid of “stranger danger” at the park with a friendly young man with a little puppy and candy? Now it’s an online predator who’s pretending to be a teenage boy and many other faces, even a patriotic older white man. It doesn’t matter what they look like it matters what’s in their heart and how their brain is connecting to logic.
How do we teach our children to look for signs?
Teach your child to hear their inner voice when things don’t seem quite right. Talk to them about speaking up to an adult to express their concerns. Give the words “I have to ask my mom and dad first.” so it automatically flows from their mouth when they are feeling uncomfortable or unsafe. If you have a child with a cell phone make a code message for come pick me up.
Encourage them to always know which two ways they will leave the place they are in. Think of airplane mode, as you board every airplane they tell you again and again where the exits are and that the closest one may be behind you.
Having a plan ahead of time on how to quickly leave can help in all emergency situations. It will help your child not freeze in an emergency situation.
Are my children prepared to react in an emergency?
Make a family emergency plan. Many times during fire safety month firefighters will come in to educate our children at school about having a family emergency plan during a fire. Where is your meeting spot? Do you talk about it when you are in other locations? I would encourage you to talk about it. Teach them about how to find exits when they go into a room or space.
Our military, police, fire and medical community practice events so that in a true emergency they can remain calm. Talk with your child about how they need to listen in emergency to the adult they are with for their safety.
Here are additional tips for
- How to Protect your Children in an Active Shooter Situation
- How to talk to children about war: An age-by-age guide
- Preventing Gun Violence in our Schools
Unfortunately at times Evil is among us. Using these strategies these individuals will begin to stand out as we connect and grow in our community. My hope is will begin to identify them before tragedy occurs. Will you help me try to prevent this horrific events in our child’s futures?
Humanity is still living among us. We’ve seen in this past month after Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria and the Earthquake in Mexico. We saw it with the law enforcement and attendees who acted as heros to save even more lives in Las Vegas. Look at the amount of support to complete strangers through fund raising and volunteers. This is the light you use to encourage your child that everything will be ok.
Can I promise them everything will be ok?
There is a famous quote from Mr. Rogers that I turn to more often then I want to admit in recent years.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” ~FRED ROGERS
How to Talk to Kids About Tragic Events
So here’s where to start this conversation when your child has experienced a tragic event in their life.
- Ask them what they know first.
- Have the conversation more than once.
- Ensure the feel safe.
- Encourage them to express how it makes them feel.
- Model coping skills for them.
- Keep routines consistent.
- Limit or avoid expose to TV and News
- Find a way for them to feel empowered.
Additional Resources for Helping a Child with Tragic Events
- Helping Children Cope with Changes
- How to Help Children Cope with Tragedy
- Helping Your Child with Big and Little Worries
- Why We Need to Rise Up with Advocacy
How are you doing with the recent events as a parent?
Do you have tips for ways that you’re helping your child cope with tragic events? Please share in the comments below with me.
Let’s be in this together and know that we’re not alone. Let’s be the good our world needs for the future.