Friday, September 9, 2016
(How We Can Help Them )
After a summer filled with more mass murders you wonder what the children around the world are thinking. What do their views of the world look like? We are not only in a war on terror, we are in a fight for the future of our children - for our civilized societies.
I am the mother of three grown sons, a former pediatric healthcare provider, and a current children's book author. Children have always been an important part of my adult life. I admire their honesty, their curiosity, and their optimism. But what will become of those beautiful attributes given the present state of our world? Will the children of today grow up believing that mass murders are just part of life?
You don't have to be a parent, teacher, or librarian to be concerned. It might seem cliché to say it, but today's children are tomorrow's future. It is imperative that we equip them to be beacons of light in an ever darkening world. No matter who you are, you can help our children.
Here are just a few ways we can each support children everywhere:
Be honest. When a terrible act occurs - and is all over social media - be honest. Explain that not all people are bad, but don't say it can't happen to them. That's not true. Explain that we all must be smart - and be aware of our surroundings. We also must tell our children that there are no promises in our world. This can actually add to their value of life if you have a heart to heart talk with your child, student, or friend. (If you and the child are people of faith include that in your discussion.)
Be informative. Inform the child of all the ways you (and the government) are attempting to keep he or she safe.
Be encouraging. Explain to the child that you are there for him or her. Invite the child to ask questions anytime she likes. If the child is in fact fearful, have a discussion about fear. Share any fears you've had in your life and how you dealt with them.
Be respectful. All questions are valid since they are weighing on the mind of the child. Answer them seriously. Don't say: "Oh, that can't happen here." That's not good enough. Attempt to get to the real reason the child is concerned and discuss that.
Be inquisitive. Don't think that since a child doesn't mention something in the news, that they're not concerned. Ask her: "I know you probably heard about...would you like to talk about it?" Sometimes children keep their fears and worries bottled up inside of them just like adults do. Share how you feel about the tragic incident.
Be inspirational. Remind the child of some of the wonderful things that are happening in our world. Point out some of today's heroes and how they dealt with fear, adversity, etc. Challenge the child to be a beacon of light in our world. Tell her she can come to you at any time.
I am not a psychiatrist or mental health provider - the things I've discussed are my personal opinions. I am just a mother who has raised three sons. I was always honest and open with them; once they were five or so, I discussed issues with them like they were adults. (Children are smart and can spot condescension.) Please consult a healthcare professional if your child is bothered by current events.
Finally, reading to a child is a wonderful way to give them hope.
If you also write books for children, create strong characters!
(Click here for a recent article that discusses this topic further.)
Hopefully our children will grow to be courageous, not cynical.