by Shannon Serpette
Helping Kids Cope with Fears
When I was in seventh grade, I spent two weeks terrified about a satanic ritual that was rumored to be scheduled for Halloween night in my hometown. Normally I couldn’t wait for Halloween, but that year was different. I dreaded its arrival, and with every passing day, my fears increased. I lost sleep worrying about it because I was so concerned for my safety on Halloween. I was also worried for my friends and family. And I was horrified for the poor victim who was going to be sacrificed that night.
Like most fears, this one never materialized. It was founded on rumors, and like most rumors, had spread like wildfire and had taken on a life of its own, becoming increasingly more horrific with each retelling.
When Halloween was over, I sighed with relief and tried to take away a lesson from the drama and worry. My lesson was to not let my imagination run wild, which was difficult for a budding writer.
It’s a lesson I try to teach my kids today.
Keeping up with current events is encouraged at their school and even required in some classes. And in fourth and sixth grades, their current grades, those headlines can be pretty terrifying.
They see violence from around the world, and sometimes, it hits uncomfortably close to home. They’ve heard about school shootings and have done drills to rehearse what they’ll do if there’s a shooter in their school. That’s heartbreaking as a parent.
Parents want their children to feel safe, loved and secure. But the world can be a terrible place at times, and knowing that can help you prepare for when things go wrong. While I want my kids to be able to handle difficult or dangerous situations, I don’t want them to carry year round my 12-year-old Halloween-level fears.
I’ve tried to come up with a strategy on how to handle these big discussions in my family, and I’ve found some methods that work for us. If you’re looking for a way to have these important talks with your kids, I hope these tips can help.
- Teach them the difference between founded and unfounded fears: I wish my parents would have employed this tactic when I was younger. Someone simply reminding me there had never been a satanic ritual in the decades we had lived in the area would have gone a long way toward making me feel better.