I apologize for not posting anything new in awhile. There has been a lot going on, from my newly potty trained toddler, to my newborn-turned baby who is now crawling, and sadly, to a new neighborhood crime tragedy of a serial rapist.
And I promise, the next post will be completely on a lighter note as I have FINALLY finished my baby's nursery, well, at least the big things are done. I know, she is now 10 months old, but having 2 kids under 3 has been hard to get anything accomplished! So stay tuned.....
But back to the drama at hand. Yes, my close knit neighborhood has had an awful, unfortunate month or so with a serial rapist attacking young women in their homes, and has yet to be caught. The last victim was the most stressful on us all, as it was a home invasion where he attacked her after her husband left for work at 7am. She was able to fight him off and ran to her neighbor's home, but what followed was an extreme police chase, police helicopters, bicycle cops, and police on horseback, combing through our entire neighborhood. Everyone was glued to the news and Facebook, including my mom group's FB page with everyone on edge.
We all locked our doors. The area schools were on lockdown. We set our house alarms and did not go outside unless needed. And sadly, the man escaped and he is still at large.
But the hardest part has been explaining to our children why we are setting our alarms, why we are locking our doors and staying inside.
I think that for young children, it is too much to explain, so I have just been telling my almost 3 year old when she asks, "there are some people out there that aren't nice, and are mean and like to hurt others like pushing and shoving, and the police are looking for them" And end it at that. Note the part where I said, "when she asks." She rarely asks anymore, so I just don't say a word, but the few times she has asked, it's a quick and easy response. The more you tell at this age, the more anxiety will kick in and the more fears they will develop.
Even school aged children have a hard time dealing with stressful events such as this. I knew a 6 year old child, who once learned that a friend's mother had passed away, feared that their own mother would die next and the extreme anxiety she felt was very scary and real to her, as she wasn't sleeping or eating and would not leave her mother's side.
So if you need to explain why an alarm is set or why you lock the doors, you can briefly state that if you don't lock the doors, then people will think it's okay to walk into your house and take something. BUT only offer this explanation if they ask. If they aren't noticing you doing this activities, no need to explain now.
Children develop fears of things that to us may seem silly and unreal. To them it is scary and they have a hard time understanding what is real or not. It's not that we are protecting them too much and are afraid of showing them the outside world. You just have to take their age into consideration. Remember, abstract thinking doesn't even develop until age 11!
BUT, please do have those good touch/bad touch talks with your children starting around 2.5 years of age, as well as safety tips and kidnapping. I remember all too well when I was 4 years old, and saw some Girl Scouts out my window walking down the street selling cookies. So I told my mom I was going outside to talk to them (this was also back in the day when kids still played in front yards), and I walked and walked and couldn't find them. I had walked almost 1/2 a mile down the road and then saw my mom and sister in our car pull up next to me with my mom crying and making me come inside the car. She gave me a lesson about kidnappers and poor little me had no idea that there were 'bad' people out there wanting to take children. Lesson learned! I would have never left the house had I known that :(
But again, we don't want to scare our children with too much information and want them to sleep at night. Passing on fears and anxieties to children, won't help them learn to deal with hard situations later in life.
As your children get older, you can slowly introduce the topic of crime to them so they can stay safe.
Here are a few good tips I gathered from various sources about teaching children about crime:
Research has found that it's better for parents that join self-defense training
classes with their children and also join neighborhood watch programs
are often much better able to discuss crime with their children.
If a child is scared about a recent armed robbery, talk to them
truthfully about it. If your older child thinks that a criminal is loose in
the neighborhood, be sure to walk around the house with them and show
the child all the security measures that your house has in place (all
doors locked, windows locked, security system armedetc).
Always be sure that you fully understand what your child means
when they are talking with you. Growing children often do not have full
vocabularies and can pick up words without understanding their
Children, especially young children, often have a hard time
differentiating between what they see on TV and the real word. Cartoons
and other shows often depict avengers brandishing swords and guns to
thwart their enemies. Kids often think that this is how real life should
be and can wield sticks and fake guns in imitation. Oftentimes, kids
find real guns and use them in similar ways with very tragic
You have a variety of options when it comes to how
your children interact with the television. Many TVs are now equipped
with parental control chips that you can program so that children can
only watch certain, pre-approved shows.
Oftentimes, children do not know that the
rules are in place for their own protection, not merely as a
restriction on their freedom. If your child breaks a rule, they should
feel comfortable enough to tell you about it. When children know that the rules are there for
their own safety, they may feel more comfortable talking to their
parents when something bad happens as a result of their breaking those
I can't wait for this criminal to be caught so we can all go back to our Stress-less lives where the biggest worry was what to cook for dinner!