On paper, it seems counterproductive. But almost all of us do it. As parents, we try to “shelter” our children for as long as possible from subjects we consider too mature for their eyes and ears. Violence, racism, strong language. “They’re too young to know about (insert subject here),” we’ll say. But inevitably what happens is, despite our best efforts to avoid said subjects, they’ll be exposed to them before we’re ready. Whether it’s from a classmate’s older brother, or by turning on the nightly news when we aren’t there to supervise, they’re going to learn about things we compartmentalize as “adult topics.” And the worst part is, they’re more likely to learn about them without you (or any adult) to provide the proper perspective.
Kiddie Academy is a family-owned educational child care taking aim at changing this approach. Founded in 1981 and then franchised a decade later, Kiddie Academy’s Life Essentials curriculum focuses on social and emotional development in children, integrating two essential ingredients – learning and fun. And they treat every experience as an opportunity to learn.
Vice President of Education for Kiddie Academy, Richard Peterson, recently wrote an article with pointers on how to discuss tragedy with our children. And the first step he lists is perhaps the most critical, as it’s the one that sets the stage for a dialogue to even happen at all.
Create a comfortable environment for conversation and limit distractions.
Easier said than done, perhaps, but I think the operative word here is comfortable. And creating a rapport with your child that enables open communication will facilitate not only this conversation, but many others.
Among Peterson’s other tips are: Shifting the focus from the negative aspects of a tragedy to the altruism of the volunteers, simply listening to your child’s concerns and fears, and relating to your child’s feelings.
Living in a culture where every newscast seems to include a mass shooting, natural disaster, or other calamity, we’d be wise to open the lines of communication with those who matters most to us. It not only increases the bond we have with our children, but better prepares them for a world where they will inevitably need to face adversity head-on.