It is a dangerous world we live in. Every day there is a new story about violence, terrorism, and rioting. As one incident fades away, a new one emerges. No matter where we go, it is not safe; not schools, or churches, not malls or streets. Violence is on the rise, with a 3.1 increase in violent crimes. Fatal shootings, officer shootings, and mass shootings have all increased in 2016, according to a Washington Post analysis. As parents, we do our absolute best to protect our children, but we can never do enough.
With violence all around us, how do we talk to our kids about it?
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Use these three strategies to talk to your kids about violence
Teach your kids how to respond to violence
Your beliefs will play a role in how you speak about violence. The Bible talks about ‘turning the other cheek,’ meaning do not fight back. Teach them how to respond when they are involved with violence. They can choose to walk away or run away. Depending on the situation, they can use kind words to deflect aggression before it starts. There are peaceful ways to respond.
Use leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, as examples who have been successful in enacting change in a peaceful way; follow their techniques. Read books to your children that teach hitting is not an answer.
Teach them to be confident and in self-control, and not get angry. There will be moments to practice and instruct when kids get mad. Use those times to teach them self-control. When they feel angry have them stop and count. Work with them to find a peaceful solution to an infuriating problem. Teaching during the everyday moments will help when they are faced with greater moments.
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Let them know who to turn to in case they witness or are a part of violence. They can talk to you, their parents, or a person who has authority, like law enforcement or a teacher.
Model the behavior you want your child to emulate
Set the example, first. You teach self-control by being in control. If your child sees you angry, then allow them to see how you deal with that anger. Arguments happen and when they do, make sure your kids see how the arguments got resolved. Take it one step further and talk about how and why you responded they way you did.
If they see you act in a manner that you do not want them to imitate, speak with them. Tell them you are not perfect and that you did not act appropriately. Spin it and ask them the way you should have responded.
The emotions you portray seeing violence will transfer to your child. If you are nervous, anxious or scared, they too, will feel those some emotions.
Limit the type of content you and your kids view. Playing violent games or watching violent movies may have an impact on aggression.
Discuss violence honestly when it happens
When your kids bring up stories in the news or they see images on television and movies that are scary, talk to them truthfully about it. Allow them to ask questions and answer them to the best of your knowledge. New emotions may surface, ones they cannot yet describe. Let them know it is alright to feel scared or anxious. Talk with them. Reassure them with your love.
There is enough hurt in this world. It is time for dads to talk to and teach their children about violence. Teach them to solve their problems without aggression. Begin an open, honest dialogue about their feelings and help them understand. Show your child how to act and respond. Little eyes are always watching
Violence is not the answer. All Lives Matter
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