This blog post will self-destruct in 15 days. That's if you believe all of the hype about the Mayan prophecy. Apparently, the world, as we know it, will come to an end. It's over, folks. It's the end of the world as we know it; I feel fine but many kids don't.
For the record, I do not believe the predictions and have given the hype surrounding this "prophecy" little thought, despite the doomsday prophets and naysayers best efforts. They really know how to spoil a party, don't they? NASA says it's not going to happen, so that's good enough for me, but apparently not for a legion of little children who are feeling that their world is going to come crashing down -- literally.
Sarcasm aside, all this talk about the world ending can't be good for our kids. As we approach "doomsday" and the hype surrounding it increases, one has to wonder what all of this nay-saying is doing to our children. While we may laugh it off or give it nary a thought, our kids could be quaking in their collective boots. And that's not good.
Children are fragile creatures in many ways, and despite their outward displays to the contrary, they can and are affected by pronouncements made by what they see as reputable sources, e.g. the media, TV, the Internet and their friends. Right or wrong, it is what it is, and if your child is socializing with other kids on any level, they have likely gotten wind of this "world ending" business in some form. I've heard from more than one parent that, with great anxiety, their kids have been asking questions. It's a real shame that children should even have to go through these feelings of fear due to media hype and other opportunistic channels.
The sun will come up on December 22, 2012, I'm pretty sure, but many children aren't as optimistic. For the parents who are dealing with their kids' anxiety and fear, here are six ways to navigate the (non-existent) storm that has come to be known as "Doomsday, 2012."
1) Talk it through -- Your child may be harboring many feelings of anxiety, fear and depression as a result of what they've heard about the impending date. One of the best things that you can do for them is to lend an ear and listen to their concerns about what they think is going to occur. Doing so will give you the opportunity to provide them with your point of view, as well as information about how this is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that people will be making these types of predictions. Having your child realize that this is not a one-time thing and that the "end of the world" scenarios are as old as the world itself may ease their fears and lessen their feelings of stress.
2) Comfort them -- Of course this seems obvious but it may not be for some of us who, as adults, don't give this prophecy much thought as we think it's a complete hoax. In our adult minds, we've decided that it's nonsense, but not so for a child who has not had the life experience and insight to come to this conclusion. For them, this scenario is likely petrifying, even if they don't show it outwardly. As with point #1, comforting your child should always be accompanied by talking through the child's fears and concerns until they feel reasonably comfortable with the outcome of the discussions.
3) Validate them -- Saying "Oh, don't worry about it, Honey -- everything is going to be fine" probably won't work. In your mind, you know better, but for a child, they need to have their fears and feelings validated through words and actions. For example, saying something along the lines of "I know that this must be really frightening for you," or "I understand why this type of information makes you feel scared" will give them comfort just for the fact that you're acknowledging their emotions. Having them know that you're doing your best to put yourself in their shoes will be a big step towards them overcoming their fears.
4) Reassure them -- One of your primary jobs as a parent is to protect your children and to provide them with a warm, safe place to land and reside. This is particularly the case in instances like this where they may feel that they have no control over the situation, and that the "inevitable" is going to occur. Be consistent in your assurances to them that nothing is going to happen on December 21, 2012, and that it is just another day on the calendar. Hearing this information from mom or dad goes so much further than hearing it from anyone else.
3) Give Them Facts -- It's been said that "the truth shall set you free," and never is this more true than now. Kids need facts in order for them to understand, process and release the irrational or unfounded fears that they may have. This is particularly the case with this 2012 scenario because, unfortunately, we're bombarded with "news" about how the Mayan Prophecy works, but not enough equally balanced information refuting it.
4) Enlist Help -- Two heads are better than one and in addition to your spouse, partner and close family, this is a really good time to engage others, such as your child's friends. With the support of their parents, of course, it might not be a bad idea to meet with other children and their parents to show your child that there are kids, like them, who are not feeling fearful about this particular "event." Children in particular, often look to their friends for signs about what is true or not, so being in the company of those (and their families) who are not worried or concerned about the coming date will likely help.
5) Go to the Pros -- Why not do some research with your kids to help them get a grasp on the unlikeliness of this "prophecy?" If they're old enough (this won't work as well with younger kids), it's probably not a bad idea to get online with your child and show them all of the information out there from reputable sources that refutes all of the hype and nonsense surrounding this date. December 21, 2012 is just another day, after all.