Advice for handling children’s fears can be applied to us all.
“It is probably not love that makes the world go around, but rather those mutually supportive alliances through which partners recognize their dependence on each other for the achievement of shared and private goals.”
Doing research for a book I’m working on, I came across an article that gave suggestions on how to talk to kids about the Newton shooting.
Here are two experts that really got to me:
“If your child senses that she isn’t allowed to get upset, cry or show you that she’s frightened or upset, then she’ll push those feelings down inside, where they’ll cause nightmares or anxiety. If, instead, you accept and reflect your child’s feelings, those feelings will tumble out for a few days but then will dissipate. Remember that your child will almost certainly need to experience some terror she’s holding in her body, which she will probably show you with aggression. If you can stay compassionate when she gets aggressive (“Sweetie, no hitting … You must be very upset to hit like that”), she’ll show you the tears and fears behind her anger. The most helpful thing you can do is listen to your child’s fears, hug her, and reassure her that you will always keep her safe.”
“They may “over-react” and have a meltdown about something that seems trivial to you, which allows them to let off stress by crying or raging. Children who are afraid of losing you to death might “test” you by misbehaving to see if you love them enough not to abandon them. In all discussions about scary news, reassure your child that you will always do everything you can to keep her safe. You can’t do this too many times.”
After my first read, I wondered for a moment whether I’m unusually childish.
After my second read, I wondered if we can replace “children” with “people.”
After my third read, I realized that the experts above teach us to embrace children’s feelings, whether they be fear or anger, and that adults are often taught to take another person’s fear and anger reactions as personally provoking, unbalanced, and causes to step away.
How unfortunate that ego is something we’re only told to transcend for our children and not our partners.
How unfortunate that threats of madness or physical abuse cause people to shut each others’ feelings down. Not that madness and abuse aren’t very, very real. They are. But they’re much less prevalent than apathy, miscommunication, and blame.
The world’s a scary place.
Reassure your loved ones that you will always do everything you can to keep them safe.
You can’t do this too many times.
This was previously published on Authentunity.
Image credit: Capture Queen ™/Flickr