10 Reasons NOT To Talk To Your Kids About How To Stay Calm in a Climate of Fear
by Nancy Kislin, LCSW, MFT
It is critically important that children feel physically and emotionally safe. This is not an easy task in the world today.
With the current climate of gun violence in our country, it is crucial that you have an important conversation with your children as you help pack their bags for their summer adventures.
Too often the news flashes on your kids technology, stating: “Another shooting happening in blank city” and “School blank is in lockdown, waiting for more information.”
Our country is mourning over the senseless loss of lives in another shooting, at a school, synagogue or church, and the latest—a public municipal building. The world has changed drastically in the last six years since the shooting in Newtown, CT.
Since the start of 2019, 234 schools have experienced gun violence with 228,000 school shootings. The wave of terror extends beyond the death toll to the 4.1 million during 2017-2018 school year who hid under desks, barricaded behind doors, or squatted on a toilet seat during lockdown drills in schools throughout the country. Millions of school children are being instructed to arm themselves with rocks, books, and bats, waiting to jump on the potential shooter during school drills, not knowing if it’s a drill or the real thing until it is over.
As parents you need to have a direct conversations about how they are feeling about school safety. Get CURIOUS about how they have experienced school safety drills, known as LOCKDOWN drills, this academic year. This will help you better understand what they experience regularly at school and how they feel about it. It is likely that these emotions, such as of fear and hopelessness, will be brought with them on their summer travels.
But I understand that you are busy, stressed and it is uncomfortable to have certain conversations.
10 Reasons NOT to Talk to Your Kids:
Don’t talk to your kids about the fact that they are feeling scared to death in school, in the movie theatre, in synagogue and even at Camp if:
Remember your goal isn’t to raise your child’s anxiety but to create a space for them to talk to you about anything. Don’t freak out if they share frightening stories of their experiences of the emergency school drills. Remind them that they are safe, that millions of kids go to school, camps, summer programs and are safe.
Make a commitment that you will educate yourself about the various lockdown drills and learn about the schools protocols this summer.
If your child expresses anxiety or fear – remember this is to be expected in today’s climate. Anxiety isn’t a negative thing by itself – it is what one does with their experience of anxiety. Anxiety is the result of an overactive mind, telling yourself scary stories. Encourage your child to develop a mindful practice of using deep breathing and other self-soothing skills to lessen or eliminate anxiety.
To learn more about how to talk to your child in this climate of gun violence please read LOCKDOWN: Talking To Your Kids About School Violence. My conversation starters will help you and your child have meaningful conversations.
Nancy Kislin, LCSW, MFT, parent educator and author is available to come to your community to speak on this topic as well as other parenting topics.
In addition, I am available to come to your community to work with parents and kids on how to thrive in this climate of fear.