Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Coping with Difficult Times

We felt this previously posted article about coping with difficult times could be helpful to nannies and families in light of the shootings in the Colorado movie theater this past weekend.

Difficult times for children can include personal issues but also world situations. They hear about earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, flooding, protests, government transitions, terrorist attacks and more. Whether these are close to home or on the evening news, our children feel the loss and pain of these tragedies. Children are trying to cope on different levels and they are looking to the adults in their lives for stability, security and perspective.

Keep lines of communication open and be ready to listen. Hear their concerns, fears, observations and questions. While we may want to downplay their fears and concerns we should respect their feelings. Answer questions honestly and clearly while providing support and reassurance. You may need to ask some leading questions to help them verbalize. “Tell me more about that” is great statement to encourage sharing. Children who are showing distress but not talking about it may need your gentle guidance to conversation.

It is appropriate to let children know your feelings about these tragedies so they realize that their feelings are normal. Share your coping strategies with them. What do you do to address your fears? Help them see that society has changed to address uncertainty and make their lives safer. For example, talk about tightened airport security, review what your child's school has done to improve safety and security, and help them to see that they have a role to play in their own neighborhood and community. If you are in an area that is not prone to some types of natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes, let them know that the risks are low. If you are in a higher risk area, remind them about how your community is prepared.

Children may want to learn more about situations and how they can help. Participate with them in this endeavor. You may discover ways to take action that will help process concerns and refocus toward a positive outcome. We know how it feels if we are able to make a difference in the lives of others and children also appreciate being able to participate in a constructive way.

We all hear and see the news reports, multiple repeat stories, as well as reviews of disasters or tragedies. It is hard enough for us, as adults, to manage all the exposure. Children really struggle with too much information, so limiting exposure is important. When children are young we can do this quite easily, but for school age children this can be difficult. Maintaining regular routines and normal expectations while considering others allows children to feel supported and secure on a daily basis.

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