The Tree of Life shooting affected our entire community. As we all continue to deal in different ways, we can help by teaching our children how to help others in a time like this. So much love and community support emerged after what happened in Squirrel Hill, and parents can help show children how to take positive action in the face of tragedy, teaching values in the process.
Students at Allderdice High School designed and printed shirts, showing their support and raising money. It’s a prime example of kids taking positive action to make a difference. Life coach Dr. Marlene Boas suggests parents ask their own kids what they can do to help.
“The kids have the best ansers for what’s going to work for them…. Ask them what they think they can do, and they will come up with the most creative and profound things,” Boas says.
Of course, the action will depend on a child’s age. For young children, it could be making a picture, or helping bake cookies and delivering it to a nearby synagogue or first responders, or simply calling grandparents to tell them you love them.
Boas says parents should think about what value they want to instill. For some, it may be kindness.
“Even little acts of kindness around the house,” can instill the value of kindness, Boas says. It can be small things like helping a sibling or holding a door. She suggests parents the point out the act of kindness. She knows one local family that decided to do 11 acts of kindness, one for each of the victims in the synagogue.
If you want to instill the value of acceptance of people with differences, Boas suggests, “Maybe it’s reading books, maybe pointing out differences, maybe exploring different cultures.”
Kids can help other kids by purchasing books about handling emotions in a local “book drive”. The books will then be sent to schools and daycares around Squirrel Hill.
Families can also do things like light a candle and say a prayer, or older kids can organize a fundraiser with a school group or scout troop, or volunteer.
Teenagers may choose to take it to another level, like they did after the Parkland Shooting, with political action like writing elected officials and marching for a cause. “When we take action, we help ourselves get stronger and help build community,” Boas says, “and this city has shown itself with a strength of community that’s incomporable anywhere.”