Helping Your Family Keep Its Balance In Times of Crisis
Depending on the ages of your children, if you are a parent watching our crazy planet spin through one crisis after another in terror/disaster/weather shock news with wave after wave of coverage, you may be looking for the best ways to deal with, monitor and shield what your kids hear and see.
The American Psychological Association is an excellent site to review. They note, “Since 9/11 psychologists have been working to answer two critical questions: how can we help children understand such tragedies and how can we foster their resistance and hope in spite of such events?”
Ways to Help Your Family Deal with the World
The families that I have seen who do the best job of handling this critical task have some characteristics in common. In general, they all stay calm, stay in touch and show up for their kids over and over.
Pick, Choose, Monitor & Limit Kids’ Exposure
Parents can carefully pick and choose among the many newscasters. They can monitor and control, when needed, whatever electronics their kids are using. And, perhaps, most important, they make time every day to sit down with their family and talk, ideally at dinner, or later in the evening to make sense of what is happening.
Help Kids Opt Out Where You Can
When crisis news flares and everywhere we go it spills onto screens, it is a good idea to move younger ones off to the playground or the park, and field questions as they come up. Setting time limits for TV or games, right along with bedtime is crucial.
Make Time to Talk
For older kids in grade school, middle school and high school, making time to talk is invaluable. Driving to school, on the way to after school events, or wherever else you are, talk with them.
That gives you a first reading of the current news impact and their impressions and the first chance to field questions. If you are seldom available, or way too busy most of the time, those questions will go to someone else, online, in school, wherever. But, be assured, they will ask someone.
Keep Family Projects, Picnics & Traditions Going
I have seen thoughtful parents go to a lot of effort to celebrate birthdays, holidays and other family traditions. They plan, decorate, cook, and most important, make sure they are there. That kind of presence and backup forms a family glue for the kids that is hard to beat, no matter how crazy the rest of the world seems.
No matter how frantic the news, they know they have parents who care and who are there.
If you see signs of ongoing sadness, depression, or anxiety in your children, see your doctor and see a psychologist promptly.