Published December 20, 2012
The Mayan calendar is affecting kids – be careful.
All this week, my own children – along with many kids that visit my house – are talking about how the world is going to end Friday.
And I feel deep down, this is creating some unnecessary fear in our children.
Let’s not lose sight of all the events that have happened in 2012. Kids have been exposed to a multitude of psychological challenges – from a downturn of the economy and parents who have lost jobs, forcing the family to make cutbacks; to all the horrific mass shootings in public places. This is not a time of the year where you want children talking about the end of the world.
I’m still shocked there are millions of people in this country – and in the rest of the world – that believe Friday is it. And, I’m also in shock to see how many people are profiting from the sales of emergency bunkers and supplies, like water and food, so you can allegedly survive the destruction of our planet.
But – I’m not going to tackle that issue. To each his own.
I believe adults have the mechanics to rationalize whatever they want to believe in.
However, children don’t have those mechanics. They express their anxiety in other ways – and when they aren’t able to express their anxiety, it can become embedded in their subconscious – and that might create more challenges emotionally for them later on.
Children are wired around hope, positive imagination and future dreams. Many of them, as they get a little older, begin to see themselves as people they admire: artists, painters, writers, teachers. So, when I start seeing kids saying the end of the world is coming, it makes me very sad. As I mentioned before, many of these anxieties are manifested in lack of sleep, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating in school – so let’s make sure we take this topic of the Mayan calendar out of the conversation.
Here are some tips you can use to explain this latest news:
1. Be accepting of their physical feelings. Tell them it’s normal to feel butterflies in their stomach or sweaty if they are anxious.
2. Encourage kids, especially if you have children with special needs, to talk to school counselors and/or psychologists.
3. If you believe doomsday is going to happen – try to avoid projecting your fear onto your child.
4. Remain calm – and prepared. Make a plan. If it’ll make your child feel better, stock up on extra necessities like water, canned food, etc.
5. Remind them you will be with them. Speak positively to them; say things like, “I really don’t think this will happen, and I promise it will all be OK.”
6. Encourage your children to practice calming techniques: hugging a favorite stuffed animal, listening to music, taking deep breaths, etc.