Dear Holy Angels Community:
Wouldn’t it be great if we can shield our children from the horrors of hate? Wouldn’t it be great if we can eliminate the dangers, tragedies and traumas from the world and our children can live in a world filled with peace, love, sunshine and daisies? Reality is that we cannot protect our children from all the “bad things” going on in the world, especially today’s world. But, I continue to have hope for a better world. If we have these difficult conversations with our children, just talking to them, can promote change. Taking a proactive stance can provide security and safety to your children and help turn tragedies to triumphs. Between COVID-19 and the protests/riots that have been ongoing since the tragic death of African-American male George Floyd, children are gathering their information from social media, the news, friends and the internet. You can be that platform to your child that provides support and guidance in the conversation.
Here are some tips that can be used to guide these conversations:
Think about what you want to say. It’s OK to practice in your head, to a mirror or with another adult. Some advanced planning may make the discussion easier. You won’t have to think about it off the top of your head.
Find a quiet moment. Perhaps this is after dinner or while making the next day’s lunch. This is time and place where your children can be the center of your attention.
Find out what they know. For example, there was a shooting at a school or a bomb set off in another country. Ask them “What have you heard about this?” And then listen. Listen. Listen. And listen more.
Share your feelings with your child. It is OK to acknowledge your feelings with your children. They see you are human. They also get a chance to see that even though upset, you can pull yourself together and continue on. Parents hear it often: Be a role model. This applies to emotions, too.
Tell the truth. Lay out the facts at a level they can understand. You do not need to give graphic details.
For young children, you may need to have the conversation about what death means (no longer feel anything, not hungry, thirsty, scared, or hurting; we will never see them again, but can hold their memories in our hearts and heads).
Say, “I don’t know.” Sometimes the answer to the question is “I don’t know.” “Why did the bad people do this?” “I don’t know” fits.
Above all, reassure. At the end of the conversation, reassure your children that you will do everything you know how to do to keep them safe and to watch out for them. Reassure them that you will be available to answer any questions or talk about this topic again in the future. Reassure them that they are loved.
Remember, parents are human beings too, although, I believe we have superpowers. As powerful and super as we can be at times, we are still human and might not always know what to say or what is appropriate. Below are suggestions on what you can say to your children when they are feeling anxious and scared. Or, just feeling a way that is uncertain, for your children as well as yourselves.
Love and care to you all,
Instead of shielding children from the dangers, violence or tragedies around us, adults should talk to kids about what is happening.
Parents may better face today’s challenges with an understanding of how racial bias works in children, as well as strategies to help them deal with and react to racial differences.