5 expert tips for raising resilient children in an age of terrorism

When it comes to terrorism, children want to know that adults have some grip and perspective. So, get some.

5 expert tips for raising resilient children in an age of terrorism

There is no handbook for raising children in an age of terror.

Random violence is not new, but the nature of the threat and its potential impact on our children can be challenging to discuss. From 9/11 to San Bernardino, from Paris to Brussels, our children are absorbing information in ways that are scary for them. As a homeland security and terrorism expert, and a mother of three, I have learned that there is no bright line between the world out there and the impact of it in our own homes.

So here are some useful tips to raise confident kids in an age of terror.

1. You are the adult.

Our children take their cues from adults. Terrorism is not only random, it is exceptionally unlikely to impact us. The risks of bike riding, driving, or even getting bit by a shark are much higher. While you may not want to tell them the last one on your next beach vacation, it is essential that parents behave in ways that put the threat in perspective. Freaking out in front of them, or yelling at the television news, are not model behaviors generally, but when it comes to terrorism children want to know that adults have some grip and perspective. So, get some.

2. Assume they know.

Terror is meant to terrorize, so it should be no surprise that our children’s sense of confidence—about travelling, separation, or going to big events—might be impacted by a major terror attack. My general rule of thumb—in a world of iPhones and Facebook—is that your kids know more than you think they do. They need you to channel those concerns for them, calmly. Remind them that many of us grew up in a time when there were significant risks as well; nuclear drills were common in the 1980s, for example. Showing them how you too grew up in times of unease can give them a sense of historical perspective.

3. Take their cues.

My friends who are mothers often call me about what they should say to their children when a major terror incident occurs, or whether they should still travel to Europe after an attack, such as the latest attacks in Paris. Talking to kids about scary things should not only be done in an age appropriate manner, but will depend on maturity, where you live (urban or rural), and your child’s physical independence.

What I do know from years of experience is that even young children understand danger (Harry Potter, anyone?) and also understand risk reduction (such as putting on helmets or seat belts.) Take your cue from them and remind them of all the ways that they live with risk, and they are better for it: the trips abroad, the baseball games, the bike riding. The more we can put terror in its proper place, the healthier our children will behave. And always remind them while there are bad people in the world, there are far more good people.

4. Embrace the family.

A major component of homeland security efforts is that, as citizens, we understand our role in it. Telling a kid “everything will be fine” is important, but also explaining to them what you have done to prepare yourselves for any potential harm is key. Don’t put terrorism on a pedestal. Explain how, as a parent, you care about all risks to them and your home, from mother nature to public health pandemics.

In any disaster, the most important issue for victims and the surrounding community is family unification; when bad things happen, getting families together (preferably at home) is the number one focus for first responders. It is a relatively easy thought process to map out and discuss. Kids will feel empowered knowing that you have gone through the checklist.

5. Get prepared.

While communication is important, there is much you can do to prepare yourself for anything that could go wrong. In other words, get shopping. Show your kids how you have back up provisions, talk to them about what they should do in the event of an emergency, copy important papers, and just be prepared. A prepared home will give parents a sense of ownership about the mayhem in the world and children a sense that the adults in their lives are masters of any disaster.

Juliette Kayyem is one of the nation’s leading experts in homeland security. A former member of the National Commission on Terrorism, and the state of Massachusetts’ first homeland security advisor, Kayyem served as President Obama’s Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security where she handled crises from the H1N1 pandemic to the BP Oil Spill.

Presently a faculty member at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, she also is the founder of Kayyem Solutions, LLC, one of the nation’s only female owned security advising companies. Kayyem is a security analyst for CNN, and in 2013 she was the Pulitzer Prize finalist for her columns in the Boston Globe. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, she is currently on the faculty at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Kayyem lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and three children and is the author of Security Mom: An Unclassified Guide to Protecting Our Homeland and Your Home.

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The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

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Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

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Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

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4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

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You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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