Don’t be scared, be prepared

  • Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A lot can happen in a week. Prayers continue to go out to all involved including all who served and those who continue to serve to get to the bottom of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.

As a mother and a grandmother, it is unthinkable. Then, in the middle of the aftermath, another tragedy — the fire and explosion at the factory in Texas. More prayers go out to an entire town facing loss, injury and devastation. May recovery be theirs as lessons are learned.

My hope is that we can love each other better, hug a little longer, forgive more, appreciate what we have a lot more, and often stop to lift and help another in need.

Take time to be a “human being and not just a human-doing.”

And of course, may God Bless America.

Dear Liz,

I suddenly became an overly protective mom, not letting my kids (ages 5 and 8) out of my sight, worrying the whole time we were at the Strawberry Festival at Boone Hall (it was great, by the way). Actually it started with the school shooting in Connecticut, then resurfaced last week. I had a reverse panic attack because we were at the finish line at the Cooper River Bridge Run, cheering on my husband and dad. How can I not make my kids neurotic and crazy with my own fear and need to protect my kids?

Just plain scared

Dear “Scared,”

Your question echoes the sentiments of many. Whenever something generally out of our control happens, we can have a variety of responses — the one you describe actually the most common. As I have explained before, just being exposed, including on TV, to the devastation can create in us a sense of being a secondary victim.

I don’t know how much you have explained to the kids, or how well you can mask your fears, but it is important for children to learn that bad things do happen, and we don’t have to be afraid to live our lives. For hurricane preparedness, I’ve always said, “Don’t be scared, be prepared.” Well, the same applies here.

Adults need to be alert to their surroundings anyway, and keep their kids close. “If you see something, say something.” From fire and accident prevention in the home, seat belts and non-distracted driving in the car – teach your kids routines of being safe. If you start in the home (where more accidents happen) and car, your kids will learn being wise is a part of everyday life.

Answer their questions in calm, age appropriate ways. If their fears escalate, or yours continue, please seek out some short term help from a licensed professional. Research also says that faith helps children and adults handle things better, not that bad things don’t happen to people of faith. Research indicates that children and adults of faith handle problems better.

Taking time to talk about feelings as a family (again, in age appropriate ways) is important. Turn off the TV and have more face time with your family. Play together. Dance and sing, be silly. That is what builds esteem, confidence, connectedness and great memories.

Contact Liz via asksharpliz@gmail.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health.

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