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Good to Know: Tragedy, Empathy, Emergency Preparedness & Global Citizenry

     photos via Stephmodo, Cool Mom Picks, I Can Teach My Child & MPMK


Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of September 11th.  In thinking about what I wanted to post on the topic, I considered what issues are paramount to parents when tragedy occurs.  Calming anxiety, teaching empathy, preparing for emergency, and raising global citizens all came to mind.


Today I’m sharing with you a few posts (by myself and others) that touch on some of these topics.  Of course these only scratch the surface of what’s involved in helping children process something as big as 9/11.  My hope is these reads will get you thinking about what you might say to your kids this Sunday.


Preparing for Emergencies & Discussing Tragedy


First is this post I wrote soon after the earthquake in Japan.  I actually kind of regret not making it two separate posts – one with the visual paper crane tutorial and another with all the links I wanted to highlight.  My suspicion is that people got distracted by the images the first time around and didn’t pay much attention to the info. provided.


If that was the case for you (or if you weren’t an MPMK follower back then) please have another look.  You’ll find my 4 concrete things that parents can do when tragedy strikes along with links to some stellar posts on talking to kids about death, making a family emergency plan, and the healing powers of art.


Teaching Empathy


As my children get older and begin to ask me about what I experienced on September 11th, I hope to be able to adequately express how united the country felt immediately thereafter.  For my kids to really get it, though, they’ll need to understand true empathy and the first step towards empathizing with the emotions of others is being able to identify their own.  One step, I believe, parents can take towards this goal is to raise emotionally intelligent children.  If you’re interested in learning more, I posted a brief overview here.


The second part to teaching kids about empathy is putting your money where your mouth is.  Talking to your kids is a great start but doing with them is even better.  While you may not be able to take a family trip to ground zero of the next large disaster, there are plenty of ways you can involve your kids in helping out your local community.  See this post on quick, easy ways to volunteer while the kids are young for some excellent ideas, then click through for more useful stuff.

photo via Whirls and Twirls Around the World


Raising Global Citizens


An extension of teaching our kids to be empathetic is teaching them to be active in their world.  This is a concept that has been vaguely present in my mind since I became a mother.  But it wasn’t until I read my friend Mariah’s new book and her chapter on “Growing Globally” that I truly understood how important it is.  I absolutely love Mariah’s suggestion for starting early by integrating maps into your home and I’m currently working on a project to do just that (see her book for lots more great ideas).


And speaking of great ideas, an MPMK reader recently wrote me about her kid blog Whirls and Twirls Around the Globe which “travels” to a new country every month through books, cooking, crafting, music, field tripping, and giving back.  The blog’s author has a background in International Education and managing programs that facilitate cross-cultural exchanges and the site is a wealth of cultural activities.  I highly suggest you stop by!


Providing Security


Finally, I think many of us reacted to 9/11 by holding our loved ones tight and telling them just how much we loved them.  Not only does telling your children you love them feel good, it also gives them a sense of security.  Of course, with toddlers there can sometimes be a language barrier.  To that end, here is a really nice post on the five love languages for kids.


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