RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - RVA Parenting contributor Aditi Wardhan Singh is a mom of two and writer for Richmond Moms Blog. Here's her take on a tough conversation happening in a lot of homes.
What To Say to Kids About Dangers At School
Thanks to the existing environment, there has become a constant fear among parents of what to tell their kids and how much. Every topic seems to be far reaching and hard to discuss.
This is an unexpected time we have come to. From being a parent who talks to their kid about every aspect of life to not knowing what to say. My 7 year old son's school recently had a lock down incident. No one was in danger according to school but the world lock-down itself sends chills down us parents' spines. A local high school's pep rally was cancelled because some kid decided to threaten some others on social media. Many kids did not go to school for fear of danger.
Firstly, make time for conversation that is age appropriate. Gently, broach the topic, asking them what they know. Start by asking what your child/teen already has heard about the events from the media and from friends. Listen carefully; try to figure out what he or she knows or believes. Even if you yourself do not discuss with the kids, often they will have friends who tell them what is going on. Be aware of what your child knows and how they are processing the information.
As your child explains, listen for misinformation, misconceptions, and underlying fears or concerns. Gently correct misconceptions and wrong notions.
No matter what the emotion, you need to accept it. And work through it. Talk about it. Take the time to process it. Even if it is just fear. You cannot deny that we need to accept that the fear of being in danger is a very personal and real fear and every kid can feel it. Not just you, every child in the school feels the same feelings at different times. And every parent of that child feels the same. It's okay to be scared.
Fear can have the capacity of paralyzing you. You have to overcome this anxiety. We cannot let the fear of the unknown ruin our today or the possibility that today brings for us. Every moment, every step holds an unknown. But most of our lives is in our hands and all we can do is keep moving forward. Being the best we can. Doing what we can to change the world for the better.
There is a huge difference between tattling & standing up for what is right. You can provide important information that may prevent harm either directly or anonymously by telling a trusted adult what you know or hear. It is your responsibility to inform of any danger at school.
If you see a friend being bullied or a kid left behind (metaphorically), stand by them. If you notice someone who you feel might need professional help, or that makes you uncomfortable or fearful tell your teachers or parents. If you see someone threatening something on social media, bring it to the attention of an adult.
When you share something online, it is there for everyone to see. And can be traced back to you. It is not just fun. There are certain guidelines you should follow when posting something online and remember that there are serous consequences to saying or posting offensive material online. Cyber bullying is hurtful. Your connections online are real people with real feelings. When you put hurtful things out there remember they not just affect those reading them, but also those around them who care for them.
One of the main reasons of these happenings right now is because there are kids out there who do not feel loved. The world needs love. Be there for someone who has no one. All most people need ever is to know they are cared for and appreciated. That is sorely lacking in the world today and it is more important now than ever to bring our A game forward in being generous with our kindness and filling others' buckets.
Let's take the time to go over everything that we are thankful for today. Appreciation for what we have, helps us take stock of what all we have achieved and all those we hold dear. Know that I love you and you mean the world to me.
Here I suggest reading our previously published guide on how to empower kids against tragedy. Also, ensure you ask them what they have learned at school.
Often school procedure has many simple yet effective techniques that can be applied at home or outside home/school. This also helps re iterate your belief in the school system and it's safety. Kids, after all foremost need to believe the school is a safe haven.
A few positive side notes to the above would be
As always, encourage questions and keep the lines of communication open.
Limit Television viewing of the such tragic experiences.
Talk about the consequences of use of guns and violence in general.
Be a positive role model for the younger generation to follow.
Stick to your normal routine. Do not let fear seep into your life.
Adults, pay attention to the cues your children give you!
Previously published on Raising World Children.