I have been thinking a lot lately about the concept of a Safe Emergency as I find ways to prepare children for Halloween. Halloween is a Safe Emergency Holiday where many people have decided that it would be fun to pretend to be brave about all the scariest things in life--injury, death, spiders, dark nights, and walking up to knock on the door of houses where strangers live. As odd as this cultural celebration is, it is not a stretch to understand a holiday like this. This kind of a holiday exists in many cultures. Even more common and similar is the kind of pretend play that you see with seven year old kids on the playground of any elementary school. You be the terrorist and you go in the hills over there. I will be a Pilot and I will bomb you but you try to get away! Apparently, children are prone to re-enacting whatever terrifying thing they hear about. By the time we are grownups, our Safe Emergency play has become video games, movies, books, rock climbing, and so on. There has to be a reason that so many of us choose to spend our free time in activities like this. I call these activities Safe Emergencies.
Possible reasons for Safe Emergencies:
- We need to practice in order to be prepared to handle real emergencies.
- We like the feeling of control over scary things that we get when we play.
- We like the feeling of alertness and mental focus that comes when we are a little scared.
- We learn important emotional regulation, empathy, imagination, language, social interaction, motor and problem solving skills by engaging in Safe Emergencies.