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June 13, 2016

Talking to Your Kids About Terror

Outrage. Fear. Confusion. Judgment. All of these emotions are swelling in and around us. And they all may entirely justifiable.

What I believe the world needs most right now, however, is patience. The world needs calm. The world needs to, somehow, just press pause.

That’s what your kids need from you right now as well. Regardless of their age, they are watching you as each new piece of broadcast information comes in—and they are eyeing whether you give in to your emotions and get reactive, or whether you pause, tame your emotions for the time being, and begin to formulate your most educated response.

With that in mind, here are some guidelines for talking to your kids about Orlando:

  • Listen more, talk less. (They may have questions you simply cannot answer yet.)
  • Read more online, watch less TV. (Try not to invite too many disturbing visuals, words, and sounds into your home).
  • Report more, preach less. (When you do talk about it, report facts as they get verified, and save your pontifications about terror, Islam, guns, homosexuality, etc. for a time when you can, again, formulate an educated response.)
  • Grieve more, rage less. (Anger is a quick, easy emotion, but more often than not it masks the slower, harder ones like sadness & fear. Now is the time to mourn victims, not vilify terrorists. That will come.)
  • Be more curious, be less critical. (Set aside judgment, as best you can, so you can calmly be curious about new information, and about how your kids seem to be handling it).

What I’m ultimately saying in this Daily Pause is this: Now, in times of fearful crisis, is the most difficult time to pause.

That’s why we adults have to do it.

Peace begins with pause,

screamfree hal runkel


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