We are living in difficult times. The recent spate of terror attacks worldwide (and recently in France) is extremely worrying. Despite high security at airports and at high profile events, the terrorists still find a way to achieve their evil plans. Normal people are being inconvenienced and limited in their daily lives while others freely travel at will (terrorists amongst them).
This post is not about taking a political stance on the rights or the wrongs of this or that political system, but how can we deal with our thinking around this issue. Many of my clients have expressed concern about their own personal safety when traveling or indeed going about their daily lives. I have also had second or third thoughts about flying in particular. Travel plans have already been revised or postponed. As individuals, it might be very easy to become paranoid enough to believe that it is far safer to stay home. This is surely part of the terrorists’ strategy, to instill enough fear in people that the very fabric of life is deeply affected. At the moment, one could surmise that this strategy is truly working.
What can we do as individuals? I have always been a great believer in the fact that things we cannot truly influence are out of our control and as such not anything to worry about. On the other hand, our feelings and thoughts and subsequently our behavior are factors that we can choose to have influence on. We cannot easily change systems but we can choose how we see and think about it. As humans we can choose to take risk but also minimize it. We can choose not to be concerned at all or take no risk at all. It is down to the individual what choices are available. Every choice we make has a consequence of some degree.
However, our young children cannot make this choice and we need to protect them from the world outside. Allowing children to view images of war and carnage on television will without doubt have an effect on their psyche. Studies taken after 9/11, proved that young children exposed to images of this particular terror attack showed symptoms of PTSD up to a year later (see blog post here).
It is a parent’s duty to make sure this does not happen. We can choose for ourselves but giving that choice to those who cannot truly decide can be catastrophic. Televisions have an on/off switch and it can be used. As children grow older and they find other ways of gaining information, it would be then important to keep dialogue open so they might be able to express their fears openly. Reassurance from their parents is probably all they need. As with most other aspects of parenting, it is a case of observation, supervision and positive reinforcement.