In the wake of the recent tragedy and the overwhelming feelings of grief, depression and anxiety that have riddled our culture over the past few days, it falls on parents and teachers to walk children through the minefield of their emotions. Children of school age who know about the tragedy will invariably experience moments of stress and discomfort over it. Here are some tips to help parents and children copewith some of these feelings, which may be new to most.
1. Just be there
Children sometimes don’t want to share their feelings, or are not ready to show their feelings. It is important for parents to let their kids know that they are always available for a talk. Because children process stress differently than adults, they may not be ready for a full-blown question and answer session. Just be there, parents, and know that your kids will come to you when they are ready.
2. Find the right times
It is not always the best time to have these conversations. In fact, right after a tragedy or stressful moment has occurred may not be the right time to have any talks. Moments as innocuous as driving in the car and just asking may be more right than any sit-down you could have.
3. Use activities
Children experiencing high stress levels can benefit from physical activities that cause them to exert a lot of energy. These kinds of activities typically help a child from focusing all of their attention on their feelings, and free them to perhaps let go of some of the negative energy. Pick activities and sports that the children enjoy to ensure a lack of boredom. This may even help your children reach out to you to help them out.
4. Respect their emotions
As adults, sometimes we don’t take our children seriously when they go through emotional pain. We think that because they are not grown up enough to understand the consequences of certain emotions, that their feelings are somehow not important. Always respect your child’s frustrations and emotions, especially in times of high stress. This will also help build your child’s trust in you and make it more likely that they come to you in the future with their problems.
There are no exact answers as we are all flying blind when it comes to dealing with our emotions. Adults often do not know how to properly deal with their emotions in times of high stress either. Just relax and just be there, your children will thank you for it.