As I have delivered speeches on positive psychology, personal growth and self-motivation around the country, I have often been asked how to share these messages with younger children. There’s obviously no easy answer, but the same positive attitudes we strive to embrace as adults, are good tools for our children to have in their toolbox as well. Every human being, regardless of age, is ultimately seeking out the opportunity to achieve self-actualization. Supportive but honest feedback is essential, as is the construction of a nurturing and realistic framework.
In light of the barbaric actions visited upon Boston by terrorists on Monday April 15th, once again the question many parents are asking is, what shall I tell my children? There are no easy answers. You must determine what is appropriate for your own children, obviously. You must take their age and awareness of the news into account.
I will share how my wife and I handled this with our eight year old. We told him about the actions of the terrorists, but also advised him that he must not live in fear. We explained that bad people will do bad things and sometimes good people are hurt by those actions. As only an eight year old can do, he quizzed us on why there was so much coverage of this event in the news. After all, he pointed out, when he slipped off a rock at school, cut his forehead and had to get stitches, there was no mention of this on the radio, tv, or newspaper.
And therein was our opportunity to put this in terms he could understand. We told him that bumping your head and getting stitches hurts, but it happens every single day of the year. Every day we reminded him, people fall off of rocks. And because these events happen every day, they are not big news stories. A series of brutal attacks like we saw on Patriot’s Day thankfully does not happen every day, and that is exactly why it is news.