6 Tips to Help Guide Your Kids to Cope and React Healthily to Hard Times
When hard things happen to a family- the kids are watching. They watch how we react, and how we cope, and they feel our moods deeply. Even when we think we are hiding a bad mood from them. Please remember I am not a professional therapist. These ideas come from my experience and self-reflection. Here are my 6 Tips to Help Guide Your Kids to Cope and React Healthily to Hard Times.
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Recently we had a big storm in our town that knocked out our power for 5 days. Thankfully, we didn’t have any direct home or yard damage from falling trees on our property. We do however live on a well and do not own a generator. This means the grocery haul from earlier in the week was in danger of defrosting. Also, no power for the well pump- no water to drink, to clean, or worst of all FLUSH!
It was stressful with 2 kids and 2 dogs to handle the decisions and inconvenient changes involved during that time. We go through but it really put a spotlight for me on how the kids react with their parents are struggling.
My husband and I try not to be complainers of our struggles but it’s a natural response to talk it out We totally did a bit of whining as we navigated how to solve problems during the 5-day power outage. Also, our normal patience with kids and dogs was stretched thin for sure.
The kids are always watching and mirroring our responses and reactions.
Some of their responses and reactions will come through their dramatic and inexperienced kid filter. However extreme it may seem it really is Monkey See, Monkey Do.
My son’s natural reaction to displeasure or discomfort from circumstance is to talk about it. Same as how I just mentioned my husband and I were handling things. He is only 9 though. His scope of power is to change things and think on the bring side and forward-moving thoughts are not yet developed. I mean, let’s be honest there are many many adults that don’t do these things well. So he was talking it out by just repeating his discomfort over and over not only flustering himself but most definitely riling his parents. “I wish we had power, I don’t like this, I’m hot, This is frustrating.”-Over and Over he repeated. While I am glad he is good at sharing his feelings and talking it out, the frequency, tone, and unchanging manner of how he was sharing added to the stress 10 Fold.
My daughter is 2 years younger- 6 years old. She is not as talkative as her brother but being the baby she reverts into a more needy state. The clingyness began and she became unwilling to do previously independent tasks with out all the help. Getting dressed, trouble making decisions about what clothes to wear. and inflexibility over the bowl she used to eat her breakfast cereal is her response.
Parenting is always about Self Reflection.
I recognize in myself these same reactions when things are hard. Always want to talk things over and over with my husband until I have a plan. I don’t want to cook dinner and do other tasks required of me. (Let’s order carry out or wait to move the frozen food). Sometimes I have to stop and really focus on what I need or want before a plan is executed. (Can’t decide on what I want to eat because I’m overwhelmed) Also, I want assurance from others on my plan. (Have to call my husband or mom before I carry out the frozen food moving plan.) My reactions are the same as my kid’s reactions, they are just more mature and experienced.
Check out my 6 Tips to Help Guide Your Kids to Cope and React Healthily to Hard Times
1. Share Feelings with a Limit
Let them have a moment, or several to complain, to talk it out, to share their feelings. They see and hear you doing it, so it’s only fair they are a turn to try it out as well. After that moment remind them that continuing to focus on the negative will keep them feeling bad. They can have those feelings but try to move their thoughts to something they have the power to change. Here is a cool post about Guiding Kids to share their feelings.
2. Positive Thoughts
Model some positive thoughts about the situation. Thoughts of gratitude, affirmations for self and others, and anticipation of better things in the future. Learn more about Gratitude and how it can make things better for everyone in The Beautiful Secret to Being a Happy Mom.
3. Parent Present Pause
Slow down and give them a little extra time. Time to feel needy and time to think about the situation with your calm comfort and guidance. Get more ideas for how to connect with the kids in Connecting on Days You “Just Can’t” and 12 Mindful and Kid Connecting Challenges for Your Family.
4. Confidence and Building Resilience
Encourage confidence with an easy situation-related task that will be helpful. Help them if they need it and don’t forget those positive affirmations. Read more about Affirmations for Kids Here!
5. Make it a Fun Experience
Use your circumstance to create a different experience that would normally not happen without the hardship. Here are some ideas from our power outage time.
- Dinner by lantern light.
- Slumber Party on Grandma’s Floor.
- Extra pool time at Aunty’s house.
- 4 Different Dinner choices- to cook food before it goes bad!
6. Positive Anticipation
Create a positive plan to anticipate when things do return to a more normal time.
Life is full of ups and downs.
As parents, we want to best prepare our children for how to handle those ups and down when we are not around. The best way for us to do that is to model with our own reactions and guide them to use their own reactions in a more mature way. Check out A Parent’s #1 Wish for their Children for other ideas on parenting and guiding our kids to be the best they can be.