In the middle of the COVID19 epidemic, my teen came to me expressing a lot of anxiety about the current situation of the world. We had a good chat and I used the experience to give her a lesson on prepping, disaster, and self reliance. In the end she felt better and went back to doing the things that teens do.
From that conversation I thought of a few tips for talking with your kids about these topics and helping them not only find comfort, but hopefully come to embrace the prepper lifestyle as they grow up.
Tip 1: Calm their fear.
- Yes, as preppers and survivalists we know that danger is real and closer than the average american would ever realize. But your child is not to the developmental level to handle the gravity of that just yet – especially in the middle of a crisis. A wise mentor of mine always suggested to me that it’s best to lead with what he called “a non-anxious presence”. Panic often kills more than the disaster itself, so model calm confidence while the rest of the world freaks out.
Tip 2: Remind them of your planning a preparations
- If you truly are prepared, this is an easy conversation. Mine went something like “Sweetie, your mom and I saw this coming long before other families and we’ve made preparations to keep us all safe. We have enough food for X number of time. We have masks for each member of the family. We have reserve savings for the loss of wages. And we have defensive systems in place to protect our home and community. As long as we stay in this house – we are safe.” You don’t have to be scared if you’re prepared.
Tip 3: Teach them that fear is a tool, not a friend nor an enemy.
- The statement I made to my daughter was “It’s good that you feel fear. Do you know what fear is? Fear is your body telling you that you need to take action. It tells you to stock up on food and medicine while others buy a jetski. It tells you to leave a situation when you notice a dangerous person or confrontation. Fear was designed to make us fight or run away. Do we need to run from a virus? Do we need to put our dukes up and fist fight it? No.” This ties in closely to tip #2. You explain that the action that needs to be taken at this point has already been taken by the family ahead of time, and the only action then need to take is to stay calm and in this case, stay home.
Tip 4: Open their eyes to being ahead of the curve.
- As a prepper, you saw this coming. Now, start asking them questions of what else is possible and more importantly, how to prepare now. “So, if we are having this virus issue now, what would things look like if people get too sick to go to their jobs? What kind of people might get too sick that we need? Police? Power Plant workers? Doctors? Water and Sanitation workers? We could lose power, right? Maybe public water? What if the phones go down? So how do we prepare for those items so we’re ready?” I’m typing this hypothetical conversation here for effect but I urge you to do your best to not lead your child the way I did above. Let them chew on it. Let their minds wander a bit. Heck, they might think of a scenario that YOU overlooked.
Tip 5: Know your child.
- I’ve spent this post explaining how the conversation with my child went, but my kid isn’t your kid. I have a very quick witted 15 year old who could handle the weight of this conversation. If you have a 5 year old, dial it back a bit Captain Intense! Adding more fear and stress to your kids will only make them freeze, and one day come to hate prepping and possibly you. Protect their immediate safety but also protect their innocence and hope for the future. In this world we live in, they’ll need every bit of hope they can get.
For more info on prepping with your kids – check out our previous article: Teaching the Prepper Mindset to Children