I read the headline. Mass shooting in Texas. My throat constricts. My heart beat stops. I look at the number of people who died, and my eyes well up imagining what their families will be going through in the next few hours.
This has been a vicious repeated cycle of despair recently. What a horror filled end of year it’s been! Hurricanes, acts of terrorism, mass shootings have left families reeling under the possibility of tragedy slamming into their lives at a moment’s notice.
Lost links. Hearts broken. Lives forever changed!
Highly sensitive people like me, specially those who have experienced loss earlier and are now parents, imagine what it would be like be in that situation again. We constantly look over our shoulder, anticipating danger. Prepare for what we would do, should we feel threatened. We scour information for how to try to stay safe and avoid public places that might be an easy target.
For acts of God, we make endless lists and prep our homes for eventualities.
Through all this, I worry about what future our children holds. Are we preparing them enough for what is to come. Even worse, what might come.
Harsh Reality For Kids Today
A few weeks ago, my son told me about a drill they do at school. He explained to me what they would do if a “mean man” came to the school wanting to do bad things. We don’t watch the news in our home. So, I don’t think he yet knows the actual implications of what will happen to him. My heart fills with fear (is an understatement) at the thought of him and his adorable little friends who come home often ever having to go through that drill in reality.
What a sad world we live in where we need to prepare our kids for such circumstances! But taking the school’s lead, in spite of how nauseous as the thought of it makes me I have to prepare my kids to the best of my ability to be ready in such cases.
Have a Code Word
If your kids are anything like mine, they do not listen to anything you have to say easily. Talk to your kids about a word they think denotes urgency and that puts them on the alert for instructions to come.
Prep Them With Set of Instructions
I’m a big believer in preparation. So make sure your kids know to Run, Hide, or do whatever it is that you ask them to do. I will not lay out a hard line for you, because every child is different and needs a different set of instructions to follow. At school, kids mimic other kids. At home though, it is up to parents to gauge what detail of information your kids can process.
For example, in my home I say the below to my kids.
- Listen to what mom dad or an authority figure says.
- Stay with mom and dad no matter what.
- It will be a very difficult situation so stay very quiet and listen hard.
- There could be situation where we say Run then RUN!
- Find a person in uniform and tell them your address and phone number.
- If mom and dad are not there, call so and so and ask for help.
Teach Them About Emergency Needs
The school is wonderful at teaching kids the difference between needs and wants, but in tragic times, needs take on a different meaning. Teach them what a need is in case of a natural disaster, health emergency etc. If you can, prep a bag with bare necessities, and emergency care that they know where to look for.
Reiterate The Above Over And Over
Like everything else in life, this too needs practice. So, ensure to make your kids understand that the above is important and needs to be remembered.
Talk To Your Kids About Predators and Acts of God
My kids are super friendly. It has been a hard journey teaching them about how to figure out what a bad man does and how they should protect themselves.
It is even more difficult to explain to my fear filled son that a tornado is not something that comes randomly with every rainfall. Explaining to him the nature of weather and how hurricanes and other natural disasters has been helpful.
Be With Your Kids
This seems like a no brainier but in the hustle of every day life, we often don’t get time to get in that extra snuggle time.
These are difficult times. More than anything, kids need to know they are safe and loved. My kids are sensitive so even when we talk about monster men or bad situations they get disturbed. Also, with information coming in from all quarters even if you protect your child from the media, they may have friends who talk to them about real events. Make sure to be present with your kids to stay connected to what’s going on in their little hearts.
Have open lines of communication always!
Take Actions For A Brighter Future
Kids are always listening, observing and pick up on body language cues. While it is impossible to be positive all the time, we can teach kids to be empowered by being great examples our selves. In spite of such events, we need to hold onto hope and light the candle for our future generation.
Volunteer as much as you can. Vote for the right candidates. Have open dialogue about mental illness, drug use, relationships, peer pressure and current trends. Surround yourself with positive energies.
Above all, ensure to do everything in your power to be a kind human being yourself! And do make sure to give your kids an extra tight on these disturbing days.
What would you suggest we add to this list ?