|Photo: ten year old boy www.pughville.com )|
I have long said that children should be incorporated into your routine preparations for everything from Winter weather to earthquakes etc. When approached positively and included, even the most sensitive child will get the message that mom and dad love them so much that every reasonable effort is being made to keep them safe and that everything will be okay. Children should not only know something about preparedness, but they should know that their parents have contingency plans and that the unexpected would not leave them without food or alone without adult supervision and protection.
A couple of weeks ago, a little girl known to us heard from some family friends some really frightening extreme theories as to what might happen when Mr. Obama is due to leave the White House. The little girl is young, sensitive, and bright enough to have an imagination. She is now traumatized by the words of people who are adults.......and in her mind, should know what is going to happen.
|Emmeline (www.westoftheequator.wordpress.com )|
With this in mind, think very carefully as to how you present your concerns to children. Consider their age and their developmental level. Consider whether you are dealing with a child with a particularly vivid imagination or a child who has anxiety already from another source. There are some children who should simply know that you are gathering canned goods "in case the weather is bad and you can't easily get out to get food". For some children, too much detail concerning future possibilities is clearly damaging. As adults, we all know that financial collapse, job loss, the loss of a home, a house fire, are all possibilities. However, we make reasonable contingency plans and then we set these worries aside, for the most part. A child does not yet have the ability to assess reasonable possibilities and stack them in order of likelihood. In order to reach their adult potential, children need to have a period of time during childhood in which they feel safe, and as if "nothing could happen".
Years ago in the nineteen-sixties, when I was a young child, we learned in school that Halley's Comet would be making an appearance in the nineteen-eighties. I was very interested in science in those years. A short while after, I watched a television program which postulated that Halley's was actually solid and that next time it came to Earth, it would collide with it, and most probably end life on this planet. As a tiny child I lacked the skepticism and perspective necessary to set this aside. For an entire week, I was quiet and depressed, thinking of the world ending when I would be a young adult. I remember thinking that my parents knew this and were just carrying on with life as normal for their children's sake. Finally, on a Sunday morning I mentioned this to my father, who somehow resisted laughing out loud. He explained to me all the reasons that Halley's decimating Earth was extremely unlikely if not impossible. Remember that children, even bright children can get mistaken impressions about the world. Make sure that you have an ongoing dialogue with your child or grandchildren so that their mistaken or frightening impressions have a chance to be debugged. Hug them and help them to see that every last breath of your own will be spent in helping them stay happy and healthy, whatever the emergency or inconvenience.