When I got divorced, my kids were too little to remember. But throughout the years since, we’ve faced several crises: the deaths of loved ones, losing jobs, losing a home, and more. And each time, I’ve been there to support and help them through it. It hasn’t always been easy, though.
We never want to see our kids go through difficult times. If we could protect them from every bump in the road, we would. Sadly, crises do happen, and you’re going to have to dig deep to help your kids through difficult times.
Thankfully, kids are resilient, and there are ways to help them through this. Try these six methods to help your family cope with a crisis.
Don’t Hide It
Kids are smarter than we often give them credit for. When things are going wrong in our worlds, they know it. In fact, sometimes before we’re aware they do. The problem is, the things they don’t understand can be puzzling and scary. Some kids can tend to over-worry, making the situation seem worse than it is. Here’s where it’s smart to let them in on what’s happening, but in terms they understand. It’s ok to tell them the basics, like “Mommy’s sick, but she’ll be fine” without giving too many details. This allows them to put a name on what’s happening around them.
Here’s where having the kids know what’s going on can prove challenging. Children tend to personalize, so they might think things are their fault. This is where you need to step in as a parent and set some firm boundaries. This is a problem, but it’s not their problem to solve, nor is it their fault what’s going on.
You must be clear with them about their role in this situation: they are not to worry, to try to fix, to take blame, etc. They are to simply continue their lives and let you deal with the situation.
Teach Your Kids Valuable Skills
Kids in crisis will feel the stress of the situation but may not have the skills to cope with it. Here’s where you need to step in. Help them to learn how to breathe deeply or meditate to find their calm again. If they’re struggling, consider counseling as professionals have a lot more in their toolkit to teach kids than might occur to you.
Children don’t have a name always for what they’re feeling. They feel confused and frustrated, leading them to act out. When there’s a crisis, it’s important to encourage your child to talk about their feelings and for you to help them understand the things they can’t label.
And don’t be afraid to let them see some of your feelings about the crisis. While you obviously don’t want to scare them, letting them know that you feel some of the same feelings they do can help them feel better.
If you struggle with any of this yourself, consider some family therapy to help you all gain some tools to help you with this.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to help your child is to listen. Let them talk about anything and everything as this is part of how they process. If they bring up the same things over and over again, keep listening.
Remember that listening does not mean solving, advising, or doing anything other than hearing what is said and acknowledging it. Don’t feel like you have to offer your child solutions, advice, or anything more than a simple, “I hear you and I understand.” That may be all they need.
Finally, everyone needs to break loose and relax. Kids especially need time to play and be kids. Reassure them it’s still ok to do this. Better yet, join them in their games. It’ll make all of you feel better!
In the midst of a crisis, you can feel like that’s all there is to life: this crisis. And it’s no different for kids. So teaching them the tools to deal with a crisis early in life is critical, as is being there for them. Help them understand what’s happening while also keeping the crisis in perspective. It will make all of you come out of it stronger and happier in the end.
Wendy Miller is a Single Mom Coach & meditation teacher. She helps moms use mindfulness and meditation to create the life they really want. She lives in Florida with her two sons, where she homeschools while solo parenting, while surrounded by what feels like a zooful of animals.
You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. You can also sign up for her newsletter where she offers more insights, tips, tricks, advice, and information to help single moms find purpose, creativity, passion, and peace.
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