Wherever we are in the spectrum of relationship and response to the recent deaths of citizens at the hands of police and police deaths at the hands of a crazed citizen, we are all affected by incessant images of unrest, conflict and death. Fearful images.
Especially since the killings at Sandy Hook, we feel the vulnerability of young children. A New Yorker magazine cover image captured the sadness and fear that children might feel.
Children’s physical safety is, of course, a priority and some have begun capitalizing on adults’ wish to protect, manufacturing things like bulletproof blankets and performing drills in preschools. What can get lost in efforts to protect while try being informed citizens is the fact that young children form their worldview from what they see and hear around them from everyday life, from media and (most importantly) from the example of the adults in their lives. Here are some keys:
- Maintain a peaceful atmosphere and keep familiar routines.
- Recognize that children act out their fears through narration and play.Listen and watch without censoring, acknowledging emotions and talking about how things can work out.
- Get and offer physical and verbal emotional support. Hugs, smiles, and verbal assurance among friends and family, especially the children, create a climate of strength for everyone.
- Limit exposure to images (particularly of those of affected children) and talk about danger and violent events from media. Pro-social media, images of people working together and recordings of positive stories from the family or community that evoke a sense of security in the midst of adversity.
What Happened to the World? Helping Children Cope in Turbulent Times (published after 9/11)
Mama’s Bank Account is a novel about the struggles of a Norwegian immigrant family in the early 20th century. Great literature? Not sure. But it demonstrates how to create a secure environment in times of distress.
Arrange a workshop for your school or community