A Natural Path to Remission?

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By: Tammy Sassoon, M.s.ed

Dear Tammy,

My children are confused and scared after hearing about such tragic events in our community. How can I effectively help them feel secure when such scary events have been taking place around us?

Please Help!


A Concerned Mother

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Dear Concerned Mother,

We are all feeling tremendous sadness and pain for our suffering brothers and sisters in our community. When tragedy strikes, we as parents want to give children the security they need, while we ourselves are struggling with our own feelings. As with anything in life, we need to first understand what our exact goal is for our children in relation to tragedy, and then utilize an effective method to help us help them reach that goal.

I often quote writings from Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, because he has such a clear way of explaining things. He explains that Habit 2 of highly successful people is “Begin with the End in Mind.” That means that we have to have a goal or a vision, and only then can we engage in actions to get ourselves there. Otherwise, it is as if we are going through a maze without an end point. We all have many wonderful ideas and insights, but they don’t lead to anything great, unless we know what our goal is, and how to get there.

Over the past several weeks, I was forced to think about what exactly is the goal for my children in regard to relating to tragedy. I am a big believer in learning anything in life from experts only, so I spoke to several people who I look up to, gathered some information from authors who are role models, and listened intently to the joint SBH/Chai Lifeline teleconference for educators that took place several weeks ago.

We all have many different goals for our children. These are the ones which we are focusing on now even more:

1   To raise sensitive children who are in touch with their emotions, and the emotions of others.

2   To raise strong, resilient children, who feel secure in the world around them.

What Can We Tell Our Children to Help Us Reach Each Goal?

In order to help our children reach the first goal of becoming healthy adults who are in touch with their own emotions, and those of others, we tell them that any feelings that they have are normal. We tell them that different people react in different ways, and they shouldn’t feel like any feelings they are having are wrong. This will allow them to validate themselves and others throughout their lives. Also, if we let them know that we are there for them, and demonstrate sensitivity to their feelings, we are modeling for them how to be kind and sensitive to others.

In order to help our children become strong and resilient, we want to teach and model for them that we are confident that we can and will all get through this. They have surely asked you why everyone is so sad. We tell them that we are sad because we miss the people who we lost or because we feel for the people who were close to them, but we try not to show that we are afraid. It is also very helpful for them to hear stories about people who experienced certain tragedies, and were okay. We must be careful not to minimize the effects of these tragedies in any way, but rather we must show our children that amidst the deep pain, people can be strong. Perhaps you know of an orphan who had a hard life, and then went on to be successful, or of someone who suffered a loss, and then went on to inspire other people. Share the story of this type of person with your children.