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How to Help Children Cope in Crisis

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The current world crisis is affecting everyone from adults to children. As a parent, I found that we need to focus on steps to help children cope in crisis.

Disclosure: I am a partner of Betterhelp.  All opinions are my own. 

Parenting in Crisis

The other day my son told me that he was going to drop out of school…in 4th grade.  My initial reaction was a whole lot of loud parenting.  All of this happened after getting our kids out of the house for the first time in 5 days and taking them into a store for the first time in a month.  The kids were excited, a bit rowdy and had a tough time controlling their needs to be children.

Parenting in Crisis

Actual evidence of use in said store (also yes we have masks, we weren’t expecting to have to go inside and we did not bring them, because dumb).

Later that evening, both kids were grounded for their behavior in said store.  At this point, I had still not connected why they might have been behaving like that.  I made mention to my husband that I was not going to be able to enforce the grounding, because I feel like when they are grounded, so am I.  I am already struggling to get work done from home and taking away the very things that keep the kids entertained a bit while I get a few moments here and there to work.  He was real mad at me initially, but then was able to take a quick step back and turn and talk to our kids and come up with a solution that was fair for all. 

A child during the covid crisis

My husband and I have been struggling with their behavior and these last few months.  In some ways, nothing has changed for us.  We are still both being paid and he still goes to work and the kids and I are on summer break as usual.  However, in many ways, everything is different and as adults we forget that this current time in history is VERY different for our children.  Last night as I put the kids to bed, I readdressed the drop out discussion with our son.  He broke down, said he is scared of this virus and that he misses his old life.  Immediately I knew I needed to step back, to reflect and to find a better way to approach parenting in crisis. 

My Own Mental Health

I DO NOT like being home, but I know that as a responsible person that cares about the health and wellbeing of others, I need to stay home as much as possible.  However, I am personally struggling and I know that my lack of a consistent schedule, good sleep and constant anxiety is very much impacting my family as a whole, which is why I started medication

Parenting in Crisis

If I am being blatantly honest, I am feeling somewhat bipolar through this entire crisis.  Some days I am the most organized, motivated, amazing wife and mother and then other days, I can’t get myself in the shower, I veg out on the couch and I can’t make sense of how to get anything done or how I was able to be so good the day before.  So it is no wonder why the kids are also struggling through this.  This is also why I am making sure to speak with my therapist regularly

Help Children Cope in Crisis

After the events and grounding of our kids, I realized that I need to be proactive for my children and I need to find different ways to help my children cope during this and all crisis.  It is MY job to teach my children coping skills and to rise above and through this to be stronger on the other side.  If you are looking for ideas to help children cope in crisis, check out the list below. 

How to help children cope in crisis

  • Emotional Check Ins:  Check in with your children daily.  Make sure that you are not just leaving the conversation with an “I’m fine”.  Get into the nitty gritty and ask them how they are feeling, what makes them happy, what makes them sad and listen to learn and help. 
  • Do NOT Dismiss their Fears: I have been guilty of this, but as of lately, I have had to check myself.  I have had to realize that when my kid says “I am afraid of the dark” (after sleeping in her room alone for 7 years without issue), that she is telling me something more and that I need to take time to be there for her.  If I am not there for them now, acknowledging their fears now, they won’t share them with me when they are older. 
  • Find a Professional: I am a HUGE advocate for getting help and talking to professionals.  You can learn more about online therapy here while we are all safer at home. 
  • Create a Schedule: Schedules can be very helpful in easing fear and creating comfort. I ordered a laminator yesterday and I am making an actual schedule for my kids.  It is going to include time to play, time to have quiet time, time to sit as a family and eat dinner as well as chores and hygiene routines.  Each kid will have their own and I know that this will help them feel more normal and know what to expect each day.  
  • Be the Model:  This is where I have to take an active role.  I MUST be the model and show them how to cope as we all work through these tough times.  This means that I need to get up, get dressed, have my own schedule and talk as well.  That starts now and believe me, I am going to create a laminated schedule for myself too!

What would you add to the list to help children cope in crisis?

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