By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC
Continued from part 1 of this article…..
* This is an excellent time to set up an emergency plan in your own home. Go through what you each will do if there is an emergency. This empowers children and helps them feel more in control. Remind them of a time something happened and what they did to help. Also remind them of how proud you were of them.
* Take extra time at night to read stories, watch movies, or say prayers. This helps kids feel safer and it is also a time when questions come up that parents can use to help understand how their child is processing the tragedies.
* This is a good time to bring your spiritual beliefs to the forefront. Things such as having a mass said, lighting a candle, or planting a tree for the people who lost their lives is important. It helps your child see that no matter what happens people do care and they do remember. Spirituality is also important because it gives us strength beyond our human capacity.
* Listen to your children. Children’s brains work differently than adults, and by careful listening you can better ascertain where your child is having a difficult time with the recent events.
* Grieving with your child will help them heal. Children grieve much differently than adults. Their time frame isn’t the same as ours. They may be playing and jumping around one minute, and sitting alone by a tree the next. Grieving in children isn’t normal for adults to witness and we want to cheer them up. This is a time to acknowledge when they are sad and then brainstorm with them what they can do (with your help) to feel better. Always identify with trying to do something good with your child for others.
When bad things happen the greatest source of encouragement comes from mom and dad and family.
I find comfort in what Mr. Rodgers’ mother use to tell him when tragedy struck. She would say, “Look for the helpers. There are always more helpers than bad people.” I see this acted out in truth all of the time, in situation after situation. Good in the world must always be more powerful than bad; we all need that right now.
– Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at www.StartTalkingBook.com and more about Rapini at www.maryjorapini.com.