While we would like to imagine our kids growing up without a care in the world, the reality is that children have to cope with difficult situations. From coping with teasing at school to handling negative emotions, children face a range of challenges. Not to mention coping with news of war, violence and natural disasters. Here are a few ways that you can help your kids to deal with their worries and fears.
Check in with yourself
Start by reviewing how you are feeling so that you can process your own emotions. Once you’re feeling calm, you’ll be better equipped to assist your child. When your child sees that you’re calm, it helps to reassure them that everything will turn out ok. How you deal with problems also teaches your children how to cope with the challenges that they’re facing. While sharing every detail of your issues can be overwhelming for a child, you may want to share some of the details of how you dealt with a situation that is similar to theirs. By sharing details that are appropriate to your child’s age, you can connect with your child and offer them guidance.
Practice active listening
In the whirlwind of our busy lifestyles, we often miss out on opportunities to truly listen to our kids. From mobile phones to televisions, there are so many distractions that keep us from connecting. Try to create opportunities to spend quality time with your children without any distractions. If you sense that they want to discuss something important, make sure that you give them your full attention. Listen carefully to what they have to say before asking questions to gain a better understanding of how they are feeling.
Ask your children for solutions
Instead of jumping in with a solution, ask your children if they have thought about what they can do. Discuss the different options that they have come up with as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each one. After you’ve given your child an opportunity to express themselves, you can give them your own suggestions and additional guidance.
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There are many cases where offering your child guidance without interfering is a good way to help them. A minor disagreement with a friend may upset your child but with your support, they can learn how to deal with the situation at the same time as building resilience. However, when your child is facing a situation that puts them in danger its necessary to step in immediately. This is particularly true in cases of bullying which requires a quick response from parents. If parents don’t stand up against bullying, the situation can escalate quickly.
Respect their silence
While you want to create opportunities for your child to talk to you, sometimes they won’t want to talk. In these cases just having you around will help your child to feel supported. You can give them a hug or do an activity together so that they feel cared for. It’s likely that if you spend quality time with them without pressurizing them to talk that they’ll end up sharing what is on their mind.
Help your children to manage their emotions
Strong emotions can be difficult to handle for children. Whether your child is feeling angry or sad, you can help them to cope with their feelings. You can start by acknowledging how your child is feeling and then follow up by offering them support. Techniques that help children to calm down include counting, taking deep breathes and playing with their favorite toys. Finding a quiet place to sit for a few minutes can also help children to calm down. It is important to teach children that there are no bad emotions but that it’s how we respond to our emotions that counts. While anger can be a useful emotion, as it lets us know that someone has stepped over our boundaries, punching someone when we’re cross is unacceptable. Help your children to identify the situations or thoughts that trigger their emotions and discuss responses that have a positive outcome.
Break down difficult tasks into manageable steps
If your child is feeling overwhelmed by something that they have to do, break the task down into manageable steps. Make sure that the first step is easy to achieve so that they build up their confidence. Take every opportunity to praise your child and support them as they work towards their goal at their own pace.