News of school shootings is terrifying, especially to parents. Though children are statistically very safe at school, the fear of something happening is enough to drive some parents to extreme measures.
"The anxiety is monstrous," says Joseph Curran, founder of Bullet Blocker, a company that makes bulletproof backpacks and other protective items for children. And companies like his are capitalizing on that anxiety.
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But is literally bulletproofing our children the solution? "How much more anxiety do you create in the minds of your children by getting these things?" wondered TODAY's Matt Lauer.
There's a better way, says Shefali Tsabary, a clinical psychologist and author of "The Conscious Parent." Here are her suggestions for protecting our children, without armor-plating them:
1. Teach kindness and tolerate diversity. "A better way to protect our kids is creating a loving atmosphere in school. If a kid feels connected to other kids, and especially to the teachers and administration, they don't go about shooting or bombing them."
"We should not be creating paranoia. We need to build compassionate, connected communities at home and in school, where there is less exclusion, less competition, less scapegoating, and where we tolerate diversity."
2. Keep it real and talk it out. "The way to make our schools safe is to foster an atmosphere in which there is authenticity. Our children need to be able to be real, so they can talk about what's happening and process their feelings. When people can be true to themselves, they aren't going to be building up resentment and killing as a results of it. They need to be able to be an open book at school, with understanding and compassion. Then these problems don't fester. It's about talking about feelings so we don't have to act on them."
3. Solve the root problem. "Band-Aids aren't the answer. Quick fixes solve nothing. Instead we need to begin as a society to educate parents in how to raise children in a loving way. We do practically none of this right now. Parents in many cases have no clue that they are creating the problems. The root problems are mired in self esteem and self worth. We need to figure out why this is happening and why our children are in trouble."
4. Stop the entitlement culture. "Teach kids how to tolerate emotions through social and emotional literacy. Do they know how to handle their own feelings of sadness and anger? We need to put money into teaching mindfulness. We are building a culture where children are learning, from us adults, that if they feel bad then they have a right to react badly toward others. This sense of entitlement fosters this rampant rage."