Last night we took our granddaughter to McDonald’s as a way of giving her a reward for being such a good girl all day! It was also a reward for my spouse and I because then we didn’t have to make supper!
Everything was going great. Our order was correct, hot and delicious. We were about halfway done with our meal and enjoying pleasant conversation and some silly jokes when something happened that was scary—not only for “the kid,” but for us adults, too!
The scary thing that happened
We had never seen someone get pulled over by the police and taken out of their car before. Oh sure, we had seen people get pulled over along the road for speeding or other traffic violations, but this was right out the window we were sitting by. Right in the McDonald’s parking lot!
My granddaughter was very concerned about what was happening. I was very concerned about our safety.
The news reporter part of me couldn’t help but take out my cell phone and snap some photos through the window of the scene. Two officers arrived, ordered the suspect to empty his pockets and then one stood by while the other did a total search of the suspect’s vehicle.
My granddaughter asked a lot of questions. She wanted to know what was happening and why it was happening.
My spouse and I attempted to distract her, but she would not hear of it. She wanted to know what was happening.
So, we reluctantly explained the situation based on our observations.
She was scared because she didn’t know what was happening and it was up to us to calm her fears even though we were not fully aware of what was happening either.
After a bit, another officer joined the group.
My granddaughter wanted to know what the man was doing with his cell phone. I told her that it appeared he was video recording the police men as they did their search of his vehicle and possessions. I thought that was really smart especially with all the shootings going on these days.
After the frisking of the suspect and the search had gone on for some time, my granddaughter seemed to lose interest in the whole thing and was much more interested in her Luigi (Mario’s brother) toy that came with her Happy Meal.
Explaining scary things
We were able to relieve our granddaughter’s fears about the event going on in the parking lot because we took the time to explain what was happening. When I was a kid, my parents may or may not have explained the situation to us. Because I had a vivid imagination with a penchant for the macabre, I would have probably had the guy shooting up the entire McDonald’s. But instead of the guy being the bad guy, he was the good guy and we were all a bunch of aliens who had taken over planet earth many millennia ago and…
Well, you get the idea.
Explaining the situation to our granddaughter could have gone many ways, but fortunately, it went well and her fear was alleviated.
Things that don’t scare us can be very frightening for our little ones
My granddaughter is fairly brave for a five-year-old. In fact, she tells me how she would “get” the zombies if they ever came to our house. (I feel sorry for those zombies, let me tell you!)
When our little ones are afraid of things, they can’t always tell us what is wrong. They can’t always explain their feelings and if fear is a new emotion for them, they may have an especially hard time explaining what they are feeling.
An article on lifehacker.com listed several ways to help children deal with their fears.
- Validate your child’s emotions through empathy and calm confidence
- Reduce your child’s panic with mindful, sensory calming (a hug can work wonders)
- Challenge your child to test the edge of fear
- Spark your child’s imagination and creativity to challenge anxious thoughts
- Change your own thinking to match your child’s new-found confidence
You can follow the link to get more specifics on the ways listed, but I think most are fairly self-explanatory.
It is also important that we realize that the things that don’t scare us, might be truly frightening to our children/grandchildren. Especially common things like “the dark.” (I am still a little afraid of the dark!)
Wrapping it up
We can’t always alleviate our children’s fears. But through mindfulness, I believe that we can help soften the things that frighten them. I also believe that explaining things to them can help make them less afraid of things, like the dark or the situation that happened at McDonald’s last night.
Keep in mind that what scares us probably scares them, too. If we act afraid of something, they will react to our fear, as well. Also remember that things that don’t scare us, might terrify them.
And, as always, remember that a hug can solve a multitude of hurts.
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About the author
Karin Nauber, “G.G.” is a professional journalist who has worked in the newspaper business for the past 27 years. She is also a grandmother who, along with her spouse, is raising one of their granddaughters. G.G. has five grandchildren with whom she enjoys spending as much time as possible. She began this website with the hope of helping other grandparents who may be struggling with their role as parent/grandparents. If you would like to contact her, please do so at: email@example.com.