When I read questions from parents that are asking fellow homeschoolers how they should explain tragedies like September 11th and school shootings to their 5 or 6-year-old I get so anxious. I want to jump through my computer screen and scream “There’s NO NEED for that! Wait a few more years!” It’s enough of a tragedy that so many children around the world are forced to endure pain, loss, poverty and sometimes pure hell. If your child is one of the fortunate children that have the opportunity to grow up in a safe and loving home, you’re more fortunate than you’ll ever realize. There’s no need to awaken the paranoia, distrust and negativity in an innocent child voluntarily before you absolutely have to. Please think long and hard before you try to explain evil to an innocent child. Once you open Pandora’s box, there’s no going back. The seed is planted and it there’s no forgetting it.
I know. We’ve all been there. You think you’re doing a pretty good job of protecting your child from some of the realities of this harsh world. You try and keep those little eyes and ears safe from the unacceptable acts that society commits all too often. It’s all over the news and on the covers of magazines. You even manage to hear some not so wonderful comments about current events when you’re out and about and there’s nothing you can do but allow everyone to say what they want, even if it makes your skin crawl and you feel your eyes rolling into the back of your head while thinking to yourself that it’s amazing how dumb some people sound.
Well, what do you do when your child hears one of those comments or is exposed to a situation or event that you know they’re not ready for? I’ve had those moments where I felt that my child might lose that precious innocence and playful view of life because some moron just has to say or do something that opens my child’s eyes to the darker side of life and of people who aren’t too terribly great to be around and it happened: my child’s view of life has been changed forever because of some nincompoop that can’t control the things they say and do.
Honestly. That situation scares the hell out of me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m NOT a helicopter parent and I don’t keep my child locked inside of some pink and puffy bubble. My point is that childhood should be the most fun, innocent and carefree time of a person’s life. Children should have every opportunity to see the world as a beautiful place, full of excitement and wonder. Their imaginations should soar while concentrating on play, on pretending, on creating their own utopia through fun and games. There is plenty of time for the bad news of life as your child gets older. In the very least, the first decade of life should be pretty free for all. Learning should be something your child grows to love. Exploration, curiosity and the ability to question everything and to think for themselves are imperative traits that so many children lack these days.
As adults, I think it’s easy to forget how easygoing childhood should be. Overloading our kiddo with activates, classes, playdates and endless trips out and about is very trying for a child. All your kiddo wants to do when he wakes up is resume the play he had to put on hold because he HAD to go to bed, or hop around impatiently because of some fun event that he’s been looking forward to and today is THE day!
I try really hard to parent with this phrase in mind every day:
Keep It Simple Silly
Yes, I changed this popular phrase a bit. There’s too much negativity around us already. It’s everywhere! I refuse to add an additional dose of insults to my day while trying to improve my life and emotional health.
So how do we maintain a proper home education while preserving that delicate level of innocence our children need in order to thrive?
We Keep It Simple and add in a dose of Silly.
Teaching life’s most important lessons of protection, self-awareness and empathy to a child is so simple if you show them through play. Play is the #1 window into your child’s heart and mind. Taking the time to play with your child and to focus your attention 100% on the moment will open up incredible windows of opportunity to teach your child the important lessons they need to understand to keep themselves safe and aware during those scary moment when we aren’t always able to protect them from the morons of society that try to infect everyone they come across with their poisonous words and actions.
Think of some scenarios that you know may arise in the future and put on a puppet show or pick up a couple of Barbies or superheroes and play away. Introduce the scenario and show your child the proper way to react to these situations. Speak to your librarian about age appropriate books that go into detail about situations that concern you and make up a lesson that revolves around it, including sight words and coloring pages. Pull out the whiteboard and let them draw pictures showing what they would do and what should be done. I’m not being specific about what to go over because every family and community is different and you know what’s best to explain depending on where you live and the lifestyle you have. I’m simply saying that you don’t need to damage your child’s innocence to keep them safe if you just Keep It Simple Silly!
We are all born with unique abilities and talents. I hope all of us are lucky enough to realize what we should be doing with those talents while we’re still alive because we can all make a difference to help make the world a better place. Allowing ourselves to drown in negativity and the dark side of humanity will harden our hearts and diminish the empathy we need to have in order to make a difference. Let’s show our children that life CAN be amazing and fun, even if we have to step over the piles of doo doo while traveling on this incredible journey of our lives.
What are some creative, simple and silly ways you’ve introduced real life to your child? Please share your ideas below so fellow moms and dads can benefit from your awesome advice!