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From the state of the economy to the Mayan calendar, from zombies in popular culture to deadly diseases, our children get exposed to a lot of negativity and hysteria. Here is how to quell the fears and eave your children confident and prepared.

Understand the Fears

Children, especially young children, view the world very differently and often with limited understanding. That is why it is so important to take the time to discuss and understand any fears that your children might have.

For example, after hearing about the US heading toward the fiscal cliff, a young child may envision the entire country or world physically falling off an actual cliff. Pretty scary.

For children with limited verbal ability, ask them to draw what they are afraid of. Make sure you are in a well-lit room and you stay by their side as they do this. Not only will a discussion or drawing help you understand the fears, but it can also be cathartic to the child.

Strongly Remind and Reassure Them

Explain to your children that it is your job to take care of them and protect them, and that you will do everything in your power to keep them safe no matter what. Most children need to be reminded of this at least once in a while. Explain that you are taking steps to make sure that their fears never come true. Obviously, this will depend on the particular fears, but a general statement should reassure them now and in the future.

Address fears of the fictious with sensitivity. Even though you know the walking dead don’t exist, your children may be firmly convinced otherwise.

Empower Them

My youngest son read a book in school about the polar ice caps melting and the polar bears dying. An animal lover practically from birth, this greatly upset him, and he feared that there will be no more polar bears left. In this case, we talked about energy conservation. He now is in charge of shutting off unused lights, reminding his siblings not to leave the water running, and thinking about ways to reduce energy usage in our home.

Other ways to empower a child might be to let them help you with food storage and preparation or other prepping tasks. For an older child, learning a new skill, such as animal husbandry or carpentry may make them feel empowered to tackle anything.

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