“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.‘ To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” Fred Rogers
You may have seen this note from the wise Fred Rogers floating around the web this weekend – and for good reason. Mr. Rogers offers us sage and practical advice for interacting with our children around times of crisis.
As the news from Newtown, CT unfolded Friday, the adults in our school were, of course, shocked and really had little opportunity to retrieve any information suitable to talk with the children about. Your children were not exposed to this information at school.
This weekend more gruesome details are emerging and a lot of media attention. Children are extremely aware of what is happening in the world. Some have not been impacted at all by the news or not have heard about it. Many will have been.
Some children will understandably be upset but may not express it in ways that obviously are connected to their behaviors. Some children may not know anything but hear things from friends or acquaintances or even overhear adult conversation. Children may be confused or worried about coming to school on Monday. Even those protected from this vile act and have not heard anything, are sure to hear things from others at school on Monday.
Here are some suggestions that may help your family.
• It is prudent to use discretion in exposing our children to television, radio, and internet.
• Help your child feel secure – be calm and reassuring and present.
• Give your children extra physical affection while “nourishing” yourself as well.
• Focus on the the positive actions surrounding the event – the people who are helping and how your child can help too.
• Drawing is a powerful force in the lives of children – not only can they express that which they cannot articulate, it can provide comfort.
• Keep to routines. Normalcy is consoling.
• Hang out together – decorate, bake cookies, play hockey, go skiing….
• Expect older children in particular have heard or know more than you think they have. Ask them what they know. This will give you the opportunity to clear up misinformation and to…just listen.
• Keep in touch with us at school to let us know your concerns so that we can address them.
• Finally, for more information, read through the link provided with Fred Rogers’ recommendations. http://www.fci.org/new-site/par-tragic-events.html