4 Steps to Healthy Parenting during a Crisis
A crisis can influence your child’s emotional well-being in a short period. Use your hope and love for them to offer a buffer between their experience and their mental health.
Here are a few parenting tips that will help you move your family through the crisis while keeping the losses minimal.
In a crisis, the first thing we lose is certainty and trust. We don’t know if life will be the same next moment or not. One way to not give in to this feeling of uncertainty is to trust our loved ones and remain connected. Communication is the key to this trust.
Make sure that your children know that you are with them and commit to supporting them as much as you can. It includes keeping information open and transparent. Don’t hide your emotions. Children’s intuition can tell them if their caregivers are scared or calm. Denying natural emotions will not only confuse them but will also encourage them to hide their emotions as well, denying them healthy ways of expression.
Don’t hide information from them. Share news in an age-appropriate way. If you have to leave your home for a short time, tell them you are moving to a safe place for some time and will return when your home is safe. If you don’t know about returning, don’t make false promises.
Explain what is going on around you. Acknowledge that things aren’t easy and that some people are harming others. At the same time, assure them that many others are working to restore peace. Keep up your and your children’s hope for a peaceful future.
Practice some calming techniques
Naturally, a crisis is accompanied by an overwhelming sense of dread and anxiety that lasts until the crisis is overcome. You cannot completely evade these feelings but you can minimize the impact using calming techniques.
Mindful breathing is the most effective technique to restore mental calmness. Teach your kids to practice this breathing by mindfully following the breath as it goes down in their bodies. Ask younger children to notice their belly movement that aligns with breathing in and out.
Another technique is collecting happy memories from the past and sharing them with people around you. You can also collect stories of hope and determination and keep them with you to read when you or your children feel down.
Tell them that sharing their concerns also reduces the intensity of fears. Try to find a trusted adult to share your concerns with him to reduce your stress levels. Remember that you are the anchor for your children in these trying times so you need to stay strong.
Children seek certainty from the safety of their homes, the presence and support of their friends and relatives, and the reliability of their routines. They may lose some of these essentials during a crisis. You have to be proactive in maintaining and upholding the remaining essentials to give some level of certainty to your children.
Routine is one of these essentials that can be followed even with the changing outlook of life. Ensure to stick to it even if it only means eating together or sleeping at the set time.
Crisis changes our lives drastically leaving us scared and uncertain. Its impact is severe on children and adults alike. But adequate coping and parenting skills can minimize the long-term effect this phase will have on children’s life. Communication is the first factor that eases the emotional burden of the crisis on children. Other techniques are grounding in routines and practicing calmness techniques.