An emergency management colleague sent me the item below. Cute story; great parenting; and a fairly powerful message about teaching kids about helping others. Reminds me of how important it is to teach children how and why to do the right thing; not only so they do the right thing as they mature, but also perhaps to teach others, including other adults. Character building can take place anytime. As my colleague relates the story:
“I purposely decided to call my girls in to watch the news coverage of Haiti last night (they are 5 and 6). I then explained about earthquakes (I grew up in San Francisco so I know this stuff but they have never experienced one in Brooklyn) and took that into another reason why it is so important that we prepare, practice our evacuation routes from the house, check our go bags from time to time, etc. A teachable moment as they say.”
“We then moved into what we can do for all the people especially children. Draw them happy cards was the first suggestion. Ok, I’ll do something with that effort. Then send toys was next – um NO was my answer given I had to sign for about 15,000 of those when they arrived in NYC after 9/11. Money. Hum – so off they went to gather pennies from their secret hiding places (I didn’t tell them that I know where they stash their change but the Tooth Fairy is still real too). Another teachable moment.”
“After breakfast this morning my youngest was stacking canned food in the hallway. I asked what she was doing. She told me she took them out of the family emergency bag in the front closet “because it is an emergency in Haiti and that is what this food is supposed to be for, right” she asked. Right I said. A teachable moment for me as an emergency manager and mom.”
Years ago, I was in charge of initiating a curbside recycling program in a small city in Pennsylvania. Everything started out pretty well, but things really improved when we started getting recycling information into the schools. When small children went home and chastised their parents or siblings for not putting the plastic bottle or newspaper in the recycling bin, it seemed like collection rates for recyclables started increasing. As with recycling, I think many of us in the emergency management profession believe that if kids start talking to their parents about family emergency plan or emergency preparedness kit, more and more people will start taking steps to better prepare for disasters.
Hopefully we will all adopt the approach of my colleague and spend the time to find “teachable moments” with our children.