How does a parent explain senseless mass violence to a child who is just old enough to be aware that the world has become an unpredictable and frightening place?
Kindness in a Scary World is a remarkable story of just such a scenario. At its core it is a story that shows parents how to teach a child to focus on the good in humanity by being one of the caring ones, thereby empowering the child to use love and kindness to impact his/her world.
The child in this story overhears a news story of an apparent mass killing and is quick to pick up on his/her parents’ emotional reaction. Seeking guidance, the child asks the many questions that a young child would ask, including about his/her own safety and that of his/her loved ones. The child asks many of the questions that we all ask when faced with modern day mass killings. The parents never lay blame and the story is apolitical. I love how the author uses the real curious and questioning nature of a young child as a technique. It is what gives the story its charm and realness. The parents offer explanations on a level that the child can understand and give the gift of strength and security through love. Somehow the parents redirect that curiosity and the child realizes that he/she can make a change in the world just by showing kindness in her/his own community.
Although the subject matter is unquestionably somber and frightening, the story takes on a lighter tone as the child discovers ways to help pets and elderly neighbors. Any caregiver or teacher sharing this story with a child in an appropriate setting would be able to teach life lessons to young children about how to deal with the unthinkable acts that humanity is capable of in our modern day civilization.
Alicia Nance, parent