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Over and over, parents and teachers, and other caring adults tell us, “Every new tragedy in the news breaks my heart. How can I take care of my own feelings while protecting my kids?

It is normal to have overwhelming feelings or grief in the face of news about tragedies caused by violence, natural disaster, or accidents – and we deserve support for these feelings. At the same time, we need to avoid getting immersed in despair so that we can focus on what we need to do to protect the well being of our kids and our loved ones.

When young people see their adults feeling hopeless and helpless, this can cause them tremendous panic, stress, and anxiety. How we model being powerful and resilient in the face of trouble can have a huge and positive impact on their long-term well-being.

For their emotional safety, our children need our hope, confidence, and wisdom, not our despair and fear.

Celebrating moments of joy together helps build hope

Here are 3 Ways You Can Get Support for Your Feelings In the Aftermath of a Tragedy

1. Stay aware of what you say within earshot of kids: Be aware that children, who don’t seem to be listening, often hear everything as their adults talk on the phone or to each other.

What you can do: Give yourself space to express your feelings with other adults in places where your kids cannot overhear you. Nurture yourself so that you can move into positive action.

2. Get help if you are feeling anxious or depressed: In order to take care of our children for the long run, we must also take care of ourselves. Even when bad things happen, our kids need to see us living our lives as joyfully and fully as possible.

What you can do: Talk with your family, friends, mentors, and/or spiritual leaders. Go to professional counseling if you need to. Seek the kind of guidance that is meaningful to you. You do not have to be upset all alone.

3. Live your life to the fullest while taking charge of what IS under your control: If a tragedy happens to us or to our loved ones, it is normal to want life to be the same as it was before, even if it no longer can be. When we hear stories about disasters happening to others, we are also likely to feel sorrow for those affected – and fear that something like this might happen to us. Often, our kids feel the same way.

What you can do: We can learn to accept that some things are out of our control while choosing to live our lives to the fullest AND taking charge of the things that are under our control, like practicing safety skills to reduce problems as much as possible.
What you can do: We can make space in our lives for meaningful and joyful activities we can share with our kids so they can see and feel that it is possible to live fully, even if there are things we cannot control.

Our theme for International Child Protection Month this September is Creating Circles of Safety in Our Troubled World. Here are this week’s FREE featured resources to enable you to take actions that can help take charge of safety for yourself and your loved ones.

1. Read 3 Child Protections Lessons

People found the 3 Child Protection Lessons we shared during 2018 International Child Protection Month so valuable that we put them together for easy viewing and sharing. These lessons are from our best-selling book Doing Right by Our Kids, which uses a “safety at all levels” approach showing how to apply Kidpower skills, strategies, and values as well as other best practices to protect young people at home, with friends and family, at school, in sports and recreational activities, at college, and from harmful social issues such as prejudice.

2. Our article: Safety Comes From Inside Ourselves: Finding Our Emotional Balance in Traumatic Times

Please share this article with friends, family, and colleagues as part of helping make our world a safer place.

3. Visit our International Child Protection Month web page to discover more free resources to support you in creating circles of safety in your life.

And please let us know if there are any other ways that Kidpower can be of help.

Click here to read last week’s Circles of Safety post: “When Can I Stop Being Worried?” – Accepting Uncertainty and see the Free Resources.


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Published: September 12, 2019   |   Last Updated: September 12, 2019

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.