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How do we reinforce trust, confidence in our kids after the Boston Marathon?

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Charles Krupa/Associated Press

(Read caption) After the Boston Marathon explosions, how do we tell our kids that the world is not an evil place? Here, Boston Marathon runner Vu Trang kisses her 2-year-old daughter Cara at a makeshift memorial on Boylston Street near the finish line of Monday's Boston Marathon, in Boston, April 17.

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Another tragedy has hit the airwaves and the school hallways. Again the question is raised, “What do I tell my kids?” I addressed this question the best I could — who can ever answer this well? — in my blog, “Look for the Helpers” after Sandy Hook.

This time I want to look at a different angle — one that may hit home a bit more.

When a crisis happens, we naturally express and project our feelings, make assumptions about our children’s experience, and react or respond accordingly. The first question to consider is, “How do you feel in the wake of the Boston marathon bombings?”

Most parents want their children to grow up able to trust most people and trust the world they are growing into — with discernment and good judgment. It seems to be getting harder and harder to trust our world, so how do we teach our children to trust — or should we?

We want our children to reach their potential, to get the most out of their lives, to experience all they can for their fulfillment and satisfaction. We want them to have open doors in front of them to walk through. Most of all, we want them to feel self-confident — the #1 key to successful living. Can they get there if we hold them back because we are afraid?

Questions to ask yourself:

Am I keeping my children closer and closer with every tragedy?

How will my children view their world if their model doesn’t trust it?

What purpose does my fear serve? How safe can I make them when I hold them back?

Am I changing my rules about what is okay for my children to do and experience based on my fear?

How to insure that your children don’t live out your fears:

  • Make sure you own your fear and express your concerns to your child as just that—yours.
  • Share your fears and worries with a partner or close friend.
  • Stick to a few facts when telling your child about tragedy—if your child will inevitably learn about it. Keep media to a bare minimum.
  • Watch your child’s behavior to signal how he is dealing with it rather than assuming he will feel afraid.
  • If behavior shows increased anxiety, make sure to allow for feelings to be expressed. If behavior is different, but emotions are held, insure as many times of relaxed, downtime as possible. If you are highly anxious, your child will know it and may keep his own anxiety from you. Be sure someone close to him can handle his feelings.
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