Many are still in shock about the heartbreaking Ariana Grande bombing incident in Manchester last month. After all, that could easily have been any of us either attending the concert with our kids or waiting outside the concert hall to pick them up after the show.
Following in the heels of such a traumatic incident is the Resorts World gunman robbery, this time in our own backyard.
We’ve barely begun mourning with the grieving families of those who died in Resorts World last Friday when the news of London’s attack came in early Sunday morning. Many of us are planning vacations to London or have friends and family who are either living there or playing tourist.
These horrific events are all difficult to process. Our fears that terror can strike anywhere is seemingly reaffirmed. Whether the perpetrators are truly terrorists who fight for a perverted cause or just deranged madmen, the result is the same: a terrorized citizenry.
At this point, everyone’s minds and worries need to be put at rest primarily because we are all exposed to the media and also because, whether we like it or not, life goes on.
- We need to talk about it.
Our children may look like they are coping but their thoughts may be running wild in their heads. Just like adults, questions like “Will this happen to me?”, “Can it happen to my mommy and daddy?” (yes, children, whatever their age, is worried about their parents), and “Are we safe?”.
Make sure that teachers, grandparents, and caregivers are all on the same page when reassuring them. Listening to our kids no matter how old they are (and not brushing away their fears) will give them a sense of security and calm.
Be honest. Use language that lower school children can understand. Of course, teenagers and those older can handle more details and information. It is better that they receive the correct information from people they trust like their parents or others in positions of authority rather than friends from school.
Encourage Q&A sessions. Don’t let them keep their stress and uncertainty to themselves. Reassure them that everyone is sad and worried and that they aren’t alone in their anxieties about the situation.
Emphasize that these events are unusual and do not happen everyday.
- Be vigilant of any changes in their behavior
Is your normally sociable teenager just locked in his room? Is your gradeschooler refusing trips to the mall?
Explain that the perpetrators also have been apprehended. Stress that the police are working around the clock to keep people safe.
Encourage having a buddy system. This may make older kids feel more confident when they need to go out and about. Having a mobile phone is becoming more of a necessity these days so giving one to your child (with accompanying rules and guidelines) will be a source of comfort for both of you.
It is expected that just thinking about everything that happened make us feel fearful. What is important is not to give in to that fear and to deal with our reactions in a healthy way. Encourage your child to join play dates, play instruments, or play sports. For older ones, try praying, practicing deep breathing, meditating, exercising, or other hobbies.
- Live each day with joy
Though we should be more aware of our surroundings and of suspicious characters in our midst, we should try our best to stick to our normal routine no matter how difficult it may be. This will remind us that they are not scary activities but everyday actions that need to be done.
Even the Prime Minister of London encourages everyone to continue living their lives as normally as they would, “‘And Londoners – and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great City – will get up and go about their day as normal. They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets, they will live their lives. And we will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror. And never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.”