There’s going to be a lot of people quoting Mr. Rogers over the next couple days and with good reason. As always, Fred Rogers offers sound advice:
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.
When scary things happen we look for reassurance that we are safe and that the world is not a terrible place. Our children need to know that and we need to know that, too. Here’s how we can take care of ourselves when big bad things happen in the world:
- Limit news consumption: This goes for everyone. The youngest children don’t need access to scary reports at all but the rest of us need to be mindful as well. If you find yourself glued to NPR or CNN.com, take a breather. Let yourself check in periodically (maybe in the morning and in the evening) but don’t let yourself become consumed with monitoring. The news will be there waiting for you; you don’t need to follow every little detail as it gets reported. You may feel guilty about skipping but you can’t help by worrying.
- When kids ask questions, ask them what they know first: Even if you’re closely monitoring media input, your children talk to other people. Ask them what they know and then help fill in the (age-appropriate) details. Emphasize the positives — the way the community has rallied, the people who were already there with medical tents for the runners who immediately stepped in — the world is more good than bad. Help your children (and yourself) see that.
- Reach out to your tween and teen: Your older children may not be asking questions. Check in with them to find out what they’ve heard and what they think. Be prepared to answer their questions honestly but with optimism. You can also help them feel proactive by finding ways to help. Does your local Red Cross need volunteers right now? Can your family afford to make a donation? Do your kids want to hold a garage sale or sell some old video games to raise a little money to donate? Help them find a way to be one of those helpers that Mr. Rogers is talking about.
- Make time for friends and family and other things that feed your spirit: It’s important that we take care of ourselves when we’re worried about things beyond our control. Coffee with a good friend, a long walk in the morning or indulging in some seriously silly TV with your kids are reminders about what’s fun and good right now.