In the aftermath of recent events, I felt it important to revisit some of the specifics about helping children deal with stress and disaster. I hope you are trying to shelter your children from the recent tragedy that is all over the news! Children do not need to see or hear about other children being killed while at school. It could lead to lots of fear and anxiety about leaving parents and/or going to school. Please TURN OFF THE TV!!!
So, how can you help your child go through a stressful event and minimize worry and concern?
- The most important thing to do is stay calm. Children look to the adults around them for support and comfort. Often, parents will appear anxious, worried, and constantly talk about their fears and “what if…” scenarios. When a child is exposed to these behaviors, they will most likely be more anxious and worried as well.
- Turn the TV OFF! Watching images of disaster, angry people, and listening to hyped up newscasters will only increase a child’s concern. Watch a family movie or play a family game instead.
- Talk to your child about their fears and concerns. Children will often be worried about things because they have exaggerated or irrational predictions about what may happen.
- If there are serious injuries or losses, make sure your child knows what is going on. Children that don’t know the reality of a situation will often assume the worse.
- Encourage your child to ask you any questions they want. Discuss what they are worried about, the unknown can be scary.
- Find time for friends. Having life return to normal as soon as possible can be the best way to help your child understand that things will be ok!
- Spend time together, this will make your child feel comfortable and secure.
- Remember, children are resilient, they often persevere during times of stress and turmoil!
- Encourage your child to journal or draw to deal with their feelings.
- Continue to practice habits for good health. Get adequate sleep, exercise and make sure you eat well. Taking care of your body in times of stress is important. For tips on nutrition, check out my post, Let them eat cake… for breakfast?
Helping children through times of high anxiety can be challenging. Recognizing that your child is having difficulty dealing with a situation is not always easy. Symptoms of stress and anxiety can present in multiple ways, such as: bad dreams, insomnia, bed wetting, not eating well, not wanting to venture away from a parent/caregiver, stomach aches, headaches, not wanting to play with friends, difficulty concentrating, difficulty in school, or even irritability. If your child seems to be having lingering effects for a prolonged period of time, I would recommend seeing your primary care provider. Children can have Acute Stress Syndrome, which occurs immediately or within a month of the precipitating even. Children can suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome if the fear and anxiety symptoms last for weeks or months.
I hope that you are able to help your children deal with any fears that may develop if they learn of the most recent tragedy that has our nation on high alert.
Please pray for the families affected by this terrible tragedy. These are challenging situations to deal with along life’s journey!
God Bless you and your family!