The first thing I did on 9/11 was head down to my local Red Cross to join the giant blood donation line, something I had never done before. Unfortunately there were not enough survivors to need blood, especially mine that was located way far away in New Mexico. But of course no one knew that at the time. I felt shocked, confused, helpless. The only way to regain an illusion of control over life was to attempt to help in some way.
Children are prone to even more confusion and fear than adults when disasters strike somewhere on our planet. With very young children, avoiding any TV or radio news coverage in their presence is probably the best solution.
With older children, viewing news together (or, in the case of our family, listening together) and answering questions is a better technique. Children will hear talk at school that might be sensationalist, inaccurate, or incomplete. Even those who are home schooled and perhaps more sheltered from school-yard talk, need to learn eventually how to analyze news broadcasts and understand the world. This will be an important learning moment.
- Stick to facts. If there is something you don’t understand, research the answer together.
- Stress that sometimes media coverage can be exaggerated.
- Reassure them that such extreme events are rare and that they, and family members, are safe.
- Brainstorm together ways to help, even if only in a small way.
HELPING (my favorite topic!):
Of course this post is inspired by Japan. Here are some ways for you and your children to help there:
- Kids Helping Kids (EASY): Your child can write a “Hope Letter” to Japanese children from the hardest hit areas. You can email the letter and the Hope Letters people will translate it into Japanese and then deliver it somehow:
“Hope Letters will find ways to deliver the messages to local schools and school boards. The messages may be posted electronically if that is available, placed as a hardcopy journal or broadcasted via local news agencies. (Hope Letters is currently working to establish these distribution channels. If you have suggestions, please get in touch with Hope Letters at HopeLettersCanada “at” gmail “dot” com.)”
- Quick Fundraising Ideas (able to be organized within several weeks at most):
For schools – try bake sales, used book sales (like the one we did for Haiti), a penny war, yard sale, car wash, raffle off something cool (shh… for a good cause, people will buy tickets … even if your prize is really not that cool…), 50/50 fundraiser, guessing game.
For home – How about a lemonade stand, garage sale, birthday parties (donations in lieu of presents), street-side bake sale, car wash.
- Be sure to donate your money to an official disaster relief organization now working in Japan.
It has been exactly one week since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. It has taken me one week to attempt to comprehend what has happened there. My thoughts are with Japan.