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Scary Clowns, Safe Kids

This recent string of clown sightings and threats has created a large-scale panic. Children have been exposed to the news stories and the photos and many are terrified. Many kids who I have spoken with are begging their parents to keep them home from school. Some do not want to leave their house to go anywhere. Although we cannot promise our children with 100 percent certainty that nothing bad will ever happen to them, we can do our best to reassure them and help them to feel more at ease amidst the hysteria. Many parents have asked me what to do and what to say to their kids to help reassure them. Here is what I'm doing with my own children: 1. Create a safe space to talk Sometimes kids won't come to us directly and say they need to talk. Sometimes their actions will show us. Maybe they will hover around us or maybe they will drop hints about their concerns. I reminded my kids that I am always ready to listen. If they talk, I will let their questions inform me about how much they actually know. I will try to listen fully before I interject. I will correct any misinformation or misunderstanding. My younger son, who can't and isn't always comfortable discussing feelings verbally, may prefer to draw or make something both as a way of self expression, and as a way of distraction. 2. Limit access to you tube, social media, and TV news reports My kids are not allowed to watch any media coverage of these events. Although I am all about transparency and being honest with kids, the majority of what they are exposed to is not the truth and creates unnecessary angst in both kids and adults alike. So we avoid it altogether. 3. Safe places I Reminded my kids of safety procedures. I Reminded them that their school has a strict safety protocol that is followed--Everything from the doors being locked to emergency drills. I reminded them of our family's safety procedures at home. Older children also need to be reminded of the necessity of reporting anything suspicious or notifying an adult immediately if they have any personal safety concerns. No threat should be taken lightly; yet there is also a need to explain the difference between reporting and gossiping. 4. Safe people We reviewed our family's list of "safe people." This is a list of people who your children can call in an emergency or when they need a reminder that they are not alone. 5. Keep up routine at home We make sure to continue to do activities and schedules and routines as normal, and that includes going to school. Routines help kids (and adults) feel safe and comfortable. 6. Validate their feelings I acknowledged that It is so hard to understand what motivates people to act in these ways. I Reminded my kids that although there are unkind people in the world, there are also a huge amount of caring and kind people in the world. I even named a few. I also reminded them that they can be the change in the world by continuing to be kind and spread love and compassion regardless of what's happening around them. 7. Healing Hugs I'm paying attention to my children's feelings and behaviors. I'm checking in with them. And sometimes the only reassurance we can give to our kids is reminding them that they are loved. "Healing hugs" in large quantities for them--and for us. I hope this helps your family. --Coach Kristy

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