The events of the past week are a reason to pause and consider how we can help our families be prepared for emergencies. Being prepared helps to increase a feeling a safety and confidence. We can’t prepare for every possible situation, but we can instill a mindset to be prepared if or when emergencies strike. I came across this article over at Modern Mom which has some excellent suggestions.
1) BE THE BOSS: The greatest indicator of a child’s sense of well-being is a parent’s sense of well being. How you act and respond to what is going on in the world will be absorbed by your children, but they don’t necessarily have the maturity or skills to put it all in perspective. You are their role model. Keep your calm, and they will better carry on.
That’s exactly right. Our ability to see the big picture and calmly move forward in the face of uncertainty and difficult times sends a strong message to our kids.
2) TALK IT OUT: I am often asked how to talk to kids about the news from bombs in Turkey to shootings in suburban schools. There is admittedly no single right way. Age and maturity level are relevant, of course, but in this interconnected world, your kids likely know more than you want and sooner than you might realize. Engage them and measure their fears; discuss all the things you are doing to keep them safer (see below); and remind them that while there are some bad people, there are so many more good people. Don’t say things like “yeah, I know, the whole world is going to hell in a hand basket.” It doesn’t help.
Having an open and honest dialogue is helpful. Keep it age appropriate and focus on what your kid thinks about it.
3) GET SHOPPING: Of all the crap you buy on a regular basis, it doesn’t take much more effort to get your home ready should something happen that disrupts your community. A prepared home goes further than anything else in empowering you to know you got your bases covered, and letting the kids know that you’ve done something. Emergency managers like to remind people to buy for three days: “72 on you.” That may be a lot, so get started with a day at least. This list will get you pretty far: water, non-perishable food, flashlights and batteries, candles and matches, a first aid kit, special medications or glasses, infant formula and diapers, pet food (don’t forget Fido!), and hand and body sanitizers. I’ve shopped this list several times; excluding travel time, I’m in and out of Walmart in less than an hour. And make it personal for your comfort: we have spare vodka and Red Vines as well.
This is a good. It builds off the first two points. By gradually getting emergency supplies, you are showing your children that your family is getting prepared. if something happens, they will feel better knowing there are supplies to get them going for a little while.
6) FIRE DRILL: Beyond talking to your kids about the risks they could face, plan your expectations should something go awry. Most kids are pretty practical; they get bike helmets and seat belts. Let them know what you have done to prepare the house and the family. Show them you have grip. And, for older kids, talk through what they should do, and where they might go, if cell service is down. Home should be home base, if at all practical.
This is a great topic of discussion for any family. Talk through what to do in specific scenarios. Come up with a plan. Write it down and review it from time to time to make sure everyone remembers it and to make any needed updates.
7) LIVE YOUR LIFE: Our homeland security, for all its flaws, is pretty basic. It is about minimizing risks, maximizing defenses, and maintaining our spirit. No system of security, or parenting, is going to reduce the risk to zero and, truth be told, we wouldn’t want it that way. Remind your kids of the benefits of their engagement in the world: the travel and visits to grandparents or Disneyworld; the baseball game or Taylor Swift concert; that iphone.
There is no point to living our lives if we live in fear. We want to be wise and avoid dangerous situations. We don’t want to be paranoid and avoid every going anywhere or doing anything out of fear.
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