What strategy are you teaching your kids, "Prepare" or "Panic"?

Living in Central Pa. my family is usually fairly safe from natural disasters like Earthquakes, Tornadoes and Hurricanes, so I have had little reason to “train” my kiddos the strategies of preparing for such events.  Even so, I am amazed at the number of people I have witnessed in the last 48 hours acting as though Armageddon is approaching…and they are sucking their children into their fear induced panic with them!  Yes, I know we just experienced a 5.8 Earthquake…and Yes, Hurricane Irene is knocking on our shores…but is panicking and scrambling and scaring the dickens out of our kids really going to do any good for anyone?   I, for one, would rather take this opportunity to help teach my children to stay calm, think straight and PREPARE themselves rather than lose their heads and ultimately add to my stress.

I had the opportunity to chat with both my children and 2 of my oldest child’s friends this morning, and I asked them what their feelings are about the storm.  3 of the kids said they were a little nervous and 1 child said they were really scared and worried.  I asked "really worried" what was bothering them and they said their parents told them that this was going to be the worst storm in HISTORY and the devastation was going to be catastrophic and on and on…SERIOUSLY?!  I understand wanting our kids to be aware of what’s going on, but instilling that kind of fear into a child is really unnecessary. 

Hearing their terrified friend talk about what was about to happen was beginning to upset the other kids, so we decided to stop talking about the “what ifs” and start working on the things we could do to be prepared. 

  1. Hearing about electrical outages makes kids think of one thing: THE DARK.  So we gathered candles, lighters and flashlights in case the lights went out.
  2. My little Alex is a very nervous kid and the one thing that calms him down is reading…so we charged the Kindle and had him pick out his favorite books and put them in his backpack (‘cuz we won’t be looking for ANYTHING in the dark, remember?)
  3. Max apparently has a fear of starving to death if he doesn’t eat every 2 hours…so we pulled out all the “no-need-to-heat-to-eat” foods, then we went to the local store and got some simple prep foods, bottled water and of course all the fixins for s’mores!
  4. Speaking of s’mores…the boys gathered a pile of kindling and firewood and put it in a plastic tub so worst case scenario, we still have a campfire!
  5. We put blankets and sleeping bags in the living room in case we need to have a PJ party.
  6. We charged up the cell phones (the thought of not being able to text is worse than being without food apparently.)
  7. We all took a walk around the yard and put away anything we wouldn’t want to blow away.

Then we all took a deep breath and acknowledged that our preperation made us all feel a little bit more at ease.

It’s not the perfect plan, I know.  Maybe we did too little, maybe we did too much.  We have no idea what Irene has in store for us, but my mom always told me that in any unknown, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” 

I like that strategy and I hope that is what I taught my kids…because when it comes down to teaching our children skills and strategies for life…panic just is not on my list.