Dr. Dan was on KTVU Fox 2’s morning show in the San Francisco Bay Area, taking about how to support those affected by disaster — including the North Bay (California) fires. He recommends being specific about any help you can offer, and making sure it is tangible.
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Homework is reality so it is our job as parents to help our kids deal with this reality. And that does not mean doing their homework for them! Learn how to manage homework meltdowns in this new piece from Dr. Dan, “The Homework Wars” on PSYCHOLOGY TODAY.
BY DR. DAN
I feel sick. My dread has been growing since my wife woke me up this morning to tell me what happened in Las Vegas. My usual coping mechanisms aren’t working. I can’t just say, “It happened in Europe…It happened in the South…It’s terrorism…It was at a protest…” It’s not that any of these things I usually say to myself are true or accurate, it’s just that they usually allow me to put my head down and deal with life day to day with a quiet sadness for those who are gone and who have lost loved ones.
Not this time.
My nieces were at a similar country festival a few months ago. My cousin and his girlfriend were at a hotel with the same view of the concert yesterday afternoon. My first client of the day had a niece who was at the concert (and fortunately is fine), and my kids go to concerts. My wife told me last night that she can’t wait to go to country festivals with me when our kids are away at college. And two nights ago we ran into a friend who said we needed to go to Bottle Rock in Napa next year. Do we…?
I know many others share my dread, sadness, and outrage. Why did he have to kill and injure so many innocent people? What makes a person hurt and kill others? How did he get those semi-automatic weapons? Is any place safe from senseless violence and death? My dread also represents the reality that even if we find out these answers, those innocent people are gone, and their families are forever devastated.
There is another reality to my feeling of dread I cannot escape—there is no more denying that our world is unsafe and bad things can happen virtually anytime and anywhere.
So what do we do?
Do we stop going to public places? Stop traveling, going to concerts, or sporting events? Do we live in fear and say we are not taking chances? Or do we embrace the reality of the fragility of life and live our life with the realities that exist? And how do we parent our children in a world that seems to be getting more and more vulnerable and fragile?
I know I am asking a lot of questions. I am usually the guy that spends his days helping to solve problems and fight fear and anxiety. I feel like I have been punched. How can I tell myself the same thing I tell my clients when I don’t have the answer?
This afternoon as I am finding some of my footing and balance, I am coming to terms with what feels like a new fact — that I need to choose whether, or not, to live in fear. We all do.
I do not want to live in fear.
I have learned personally and professionally, that worry and anxiety are emotions that deplete us and take us away from the present while making us live in a future that has yet to exist. I offer these thoughts to you as a fellow human — and not a doctor — who is trying to make sense of the latest tragedy just like you.
I am working on accepting that…
Life is precious
Life is temporary
Uncertainty exists (and always has)
There are many things out of our control
Many things don’t make sense
And that I have choices…
Where I go and what I do
Whether I will live in fear or embrace life
To make a conscious choice to appreciate each day
To show love and kindness to everyone I come into contact with
To refuse anger and hate
We are living in unknown times just as many generations have before us. There seems to be a rise of hate and anger, and with it, fear in my opinion. We must all fight through this dread. We must band together and unify through strength, courage, and commitment to living with intention and goodness. Most of all I know we cannot give in to the fear and hate—there are many more of us, those who will always choose love, compassion, and an appreciation for all life.
We have to keep fighting fear and uncertainty because there is no place to hide. We all have to choose.
This article first appeared on PsychologyToday.com. Image Source: Pixabay Free image, used with permission.
“Our younger kids don’t need to know what the world is really like yet.” Dr. Dan offers parenting advice and strategies for facing fear and uncertainty from events like the Las Vegas mass shooting — on KTVU Fox 2’s “The 9” show in the SF Bay Area.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the families who have been impacted by the tragedy in Las Vegas. Dr. Dan was moved to write a blog reflecting on today’s terrible news, as a way to process it. He hopes it will help you and your family. Read “Facing Fear and Uncertainty” on PSYCHOLOGY TODAY.
In my work with families and children, I’ve seen kids (young and not so young) with anxiety and worry start to ramp up as soon as the October calendar appears. These children are thinking about real monsters, imaginary monsters, and yes the (Worry) Monster. Read more in “Banish the Boo and Conquer the (Worry) Monster!,” the October Parent Footprints column for Diablo Gazette (page 6).
Worry and fear cause our children to feel bad, often cause parent-child conflict and stress, keep our children from fully experiencing life, and fully reaching their potential. Teaching kids about how fear and worry work in their bodies, and specific thinking and doing strategies to fight the Worry Monster, empowers them to take a stand against this bully. Read “10 Steps to Tame the Worry Monster,” in Dr. Dan’s latest Parent Footprints column for September in Diablo Gazette.
Here are some fun things kids can do to bring them back into the mind frame of reading, writing, learning, being curious, critically thinking, engaging in dialogue and just plain moving the body. Read “Back to School Brain Boosters,” in Dr. Dan’s latest Parent Footprints column for August in Diablo Gazette.
BY DR DAN
It’s here, the moment your kids have been waiting for – summer vacation. You have been waiting for it, too! A break from all the homework, after school activities, sports, enrichment classes, music, and more. Finally, a break! But is it? If only a few weeks into summer, you are asking “what date does school start?” you are not alone.
Do any of these statements sound familiar?
“I have nothing to do”
“Why do I have to get off the computer?”
“I don’t want to go to camp?”
“I just want to relax and do nothing”
“Summer is my break. Why can’t I do what I want?”
Welcome to the reality of summer! It is important to remember that kids often have trouble winding down and settling into summer. There is often a transition period. Many kids are scheduled from the moment they wake up to the moment they hit their pillow. Structure, although sometimes resisted, provides the boundaries by which they move through their days and defines their actions hour by hour. When this structure is removed, many children are at a loss of what to do.
Part of the process of settling into summer is allowing some transition time. Transition time can probably be avoided, or not needed, if your child goes from the schedule of school to the schedule of summer camp. For those who children who don’t, you may have to provide them with ideas to partially structure their day while they learn to unwind and settle into a less scheduled day.
Summer break is an opportunity for so many different experiences – from creating and building, doing art, going on hikes, reading, exploring new places, taking classes, day and overnight camp, family adventures, and more. While it is our job as parents to plan for your child’s summer, it is also important to include them in the process. After all it is their summer. You might be surprised to learn what they have in mind.
In addition to all the activities, some of which are mentioned above, you may want to think about what life skills you want to focus on or allow to develop. You may want your child to have a new experience, take some fun enrichment classes, play in a sports summer league, do some tutoring, or have a summer of unstructured time for creating and relaxing. This is purely a personal choice for each family.
In most cases, you will find that your child will settle into summer and find their own grove. You will also find that you will settle into summer, too! Enjoy it all because soon it will be back to school!
This piece first appeared in the Diablo Gazette.