For most Americans, daily life has changed significantly in recent years. Children feel less secure when their routines change. Young people are also highly aware of the stress levels in their peers. For example, they may ask questions about future events or change their behavior in response to strong feelings. These changes can be particularly difficult for young children. Here are some tips for parents to help prepare their children for suffering.
When addressing the subject of mental health, it’s important to remember that children learn from the behavior and reactions of their parents. Talking about COVID-19 and other topics that could increase fear in your child’s life is not something parents should do. Instead, assure your child that you and the rest of your family are well and will be there for him or her. Listen to your child and respond honestly. Don’t use “scare tactics” to get your child to talk about their mental and physical health.
Although it may seem odd to discuss the topic of suffering and death with children, they are more open to it than adults. They are often confused by mysteries and need help sorting them out. Educate them about the importance of resilience. Resilience refers to the ability to deal with tragedy, adversity, and other significant sources. Children will be more likely adapt to their environment and to cope with difficulties if they are taught this behavior.
If the trauma was a recurring experience, you should support your children in dealing with it. Your child may have difficulties with his emotions or daily routines and may need additional support. Chronic stress is caused by repeated, difficult events that last more than a few days. Children, especially young children, cannot deal with chronic stress if they do not have breaks and supportive adults. It can also lead later on to serious mental health problems.
Another important strategy for preparing kids for suffering is talking about it in a way that is developmentally appropriate. Young kids may find a scary situation very distressing, so talk about it gently. It may be best to discuss the situation with a trusted adult. Parents should keep a close eye on their children, as well as listen for signs of trouble or anxiety. And don’t forget that pediatricians are here to help.
Parents and caregivers should be calm during times of crisis. They should also discuss the topic with their child. Children go through many emotional changes, so be patient and supportive. To help your child cope, you can engage them in a variety activities. Try creative activities together to give your child a chance to express their negative feelings. This way, your child will find ways to express difficult feelings in a positive way.