April 20, 2013

Let little ones know they are safe



"When I look at the world, I am pessimistic, but when I look at people I am optimistic."
                                 - Carl Rogers







The surreal lockdown of Boston on April 19, 2013, left even optimists wondering about their faith in humanity. Special kudos must go to the townspeople, the government entities and businesses that complied with the Governor's request that people stay home while the manhunt for the individuals suspected of the Boston Marathon bombing was carried out; and special thanks to the law enforcement officers at all levels that brought the Boston Marathon bombers to justice. With one dead and one apprehended, we may never know what led the two young men to hate their fellow human beings enough to cause them harm.

Over the next months we will hear of faith-driven motives and political differences, and probably about teenage angst, mental incompetency, and any number of other possible reasons that terrorists strike. We need to be especially careful at this time to pay attention to our youth. They are little sponges that see and hear what is going on in the world around them and react in a variety of ways. As adults, we must reassure them that sometimes bad people do bad things, but the world is a good place to be.

Some tips to remember:
  • Limit exposure to the television and news 
  • Be honest and share as much information with them as they are developmentally able to understand
  • Take time to talk and listen to their fears and concerns
  • Build relationships that foster and convey trust 
  • Keep routines as normal as possible
Finally, help children know what to do in the unlikely event something were to happen close to them. FEMA has prepared suggestions for a Family Emergency Plan for explosions, bomb threats, and suspicious packages and letters. Some might think introducing these tools to young children will cause anxiety of its own, but I believe it is a reassuring step that lets the child know that plans for her safety have been thought out in advance.

For children, or for anyone, there is comfort in knowing that in crisis situations, someone will be thinking specifically of them.



Photo credit: North Street at Faneuil Hall from www.boston.com, Neal Hamberg/Reuters. 
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