It can be scary for children to hear about events worldwide on TV or read about them in the news. Sometimes they don’t understand what’s going on, but other times they do. It’s hard for them not to worry and feel scared when their parents are worried too.
Faith Leonard, a mom of a young child, wanted to teach her son Grant to learn about the Newtown tragedy.
Knowing this is a complex subject to explain to a child, Faith shared gently that bad things happen but that he could make a difference.
Together they painted Stars of HOPE at the kitchen counter. The stars had simple words and pictures that would make someone smile. They packed them up in the reusable box and sent them with a note to Audrey and Jennifer in Newtown, CT, who placed the stars around the parks and playgrounds. The stars were for the Newtown community to discover in their parks and let them know that a family from Arizona was thinking about them.
The best way to help children feel safe is by speaking with them about what they see and hear. When a child talks about something frightening, find out as much information from the child as possible. Occasionally when we speak of scary things that are going on in their community or home life, kids don’t yet have an understanding of the significance behind causes for concern because there may be some disconnect between how adults view situations versus how children do. Due to cognitive development, they can become frightened if not given all pertinent details, so always make sure you tell your little ones everything!
The best way to keep young minds feeling secure is through open dialogue- talking with them while inquiring into what they’ve seen or heard themselves to assess any potential threats appropriately.
It’s difficult to know how to answer your child when they ask why there is violence in the world or what you can do about it. However, there are ways to discuss what happened, using words you feel the child can handle.
Faith said, “Painting stars of HOPE at the kitchen table is a labor of love. Stars of HOPE has helped me talk and share my big feelings with Grant in a way that is on his level while giving us something we could do together to remember.”
The positive intention of sitting next to your child, the quiet connection, having a task to make a positive change, and the positive phrasings of how children can make a difference is a simple way to handle complex subjects.
Sitting down together and creating art is a calming way to start hard conversations and let your child know that they can make the world a better place, even for those they do not know. Download the free Stars of HOPE template. Children can be creative using words and pictures to create a positive intervention. “Making stars with my boy … It was the best way I could explain any part of that tragedy to him. I just told him that I don’t know why bad things happen, and sometimes you have to be the good you want to see in this crazy world.” Make sure there is adequate time and a quiet place to talk following an upsetting broadcast. Ask your child what they have heard and what questions they may have. Provide reassurance regarding their safety.
Faith added, The world is full of yucky right now, but I will always believe there is more good, and I will work to bring good in hopes that this world won’t be a fiery blaze by the time Grant is my age. I’m grateful for organizations like Stars of HOPE that shine in the darkness. These are my people, and I thank them for their good and the hope they share!”
When a tragic event happens, it can be hard to know what to say. If you have children, this is even more difficult because they probably ask questions about how something like that could happen and why. One way of helping them process their feelings is by using Box of HOPE kits from Stars of HOPE. These kits provide tools for expressing themselves and help show them how to cope with what has happened while also providing help and healing to a community after tragedy strikes.