When we’re living in a future where things go wrong, then we worry. That is problematic, because the worrisome thoughts steal time and energy from us focusing on maintaining a healthy perspective and then developing a suitable plan.
For instance, in the Edmonton area two guys in cars have recently been engaging a few 10-20 year old pedestrians in conversation and then they rob them of their money and their phones. They don’t hurt them, just threaten them. And they only want older kids who have phones and money.
First, the perspective. Metro Edmonton has well over 1.3 million people (literally, less than one in a million chance), and it’s just short of 10,000 square kilometers (it’s 3,640 square miles) in size. The odds that anyone’s 10-20 year old kid runs into these kids are extremely low.
There’s a far higher chance they’d be hurt with a relative in the car, which is statistically the least safe place they ever are. But the odds are too low to worry about, as we all know. That’s why we all drive with kids in cars. So if we can casually do that with their biggest risk, imagine how low the odds must be for them to run into someone in 10,000 square kilometers.
Secondly, once we know the odds, an appropriate plan is wise. You can come up with whatever plan you want, but as an example:
If the child is old enough for a cell phone, they can facebook live any unusual approaches to them by anyone in a car. They can even explain that fact to the people right while they’re filming them as they approach.
They can politely say, “Sorry to ‘facebook live’ you, but I’m doing it to everyone for a while. There’s been robberies on the news so until they catch those guys I’m filming any stranger that wants my attention. That way there is always a public record of the people I interact with. Who’s gonna rob someone when they know the cops already have a photo of them? So what did you guys want?” (That was off the top of my head, you can likely do better.)
The last thing we want to do is cripple anyone’s spirit with unnecessary and unrealistic fear.
What the plan is doesn’t matter, it just has to be matter-of-fact and based on the kid using their observation skills. It has to empower them to feel like they can be in as much control as is humanly possible.
If our planning sounds terrified or panicked or based on irrational fear, then the kid will pick up on that and that will mislead them about their actual odds of being in danger, which are again, very low. The last thing we want to do is cripple anyone’s spirit with unnecessary and unrealistic fear.
These can be good teaching moments to help children understand perspective and to learn to manage risk. Life will demand those skills when we’re older.
Don’t load your life with fear. Recognize, analyze and plan and then drop it. We really do have to remind ourselves that we can only do what we can only do.
We absolutely can drive all children everywhere for the next year. And that should draw no criticism –it’s one type of person’s answer. But it too will have a price, both in terms of the child’s mental and physical well being. So whatever route we choose, we should understand that all choices –even the safest ones– carry prices.
Life is essentially an exercise in weighing risk versus reward, and ‘being an individual’ is comprised of how much of each we are individually prepared to accept.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.