By Prevention Specialist Lakisha Griffin 

Young children often live in their imaginary world more than they do in the real world. We as parents know that the real world offers fears, stress, worries, and anxieties. These things can cause more harm than good. We as parents need to be able to provide basic information and be equipped for handling devastating news or tragedies that can pose issues for our children. Try some of the following tips when issues arise:

Start with taking care of yourself first. Children rely on their parents and/or caregivers for safety and security. Children can pick up on how we are feeling. Children are impacted by our emotional state rather than our words.  Children depend on the adults around them for safety and security. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, find someone that you trust so that you can confide in. If you don’t have that person, please seek professional assistance.

Cover all basics. Explore why it is your child is feeling a certain way. Ask open-ended questions. Such as “How are you feeling today”? “Why did that make you feel this way”? These types of questions will give you the opportunity to explore your child more and ask other questions.  When you become a parent, there is not a book included. Being a parent is trial and error; and as time goes on, you will have to figure out what works best for you.

Encourage communication. Let your child know that they can talk to you about their thoughts, feelings, or difficult things they’re dealing with. Dealing with a crisis is stressful; therefore, allow your child to vent and answer all questions if possible. Think about how you handled stressful situations when you were their age.

Create a calm environment. Children that are experiencing crises cannot solely rely on reason. Our kids rely on parents to keep calm and offer stability. Speak softly, use short, clear, concise instruction, and have your children explain to you how they feel.

Create routines. Routines provide a sense of stability to children; especially those who struggle with anxiety or attention deficit disorders. Keep bedtimes and mornings in mind when creating routines.  Nutrition is also key. Make sure the meals you provide includes a well-balanced diet. This helps improve attention span. 

Be prepared to deal with troubling thoughts.  Our brains can sometimes play tricks on us. A child’s brain is still developing; therefore, tricks occur often. As a parent, breakdown issues or thoughts that can cause problems to assist with bringing your child back to reality.  Provide your child with tips and resources for dealing with problematic thoughts. If there is a great need for more assistance, please seek professional help.

Timing is everything. When stressful situations arise, allow your children to time and space. Address issues and concerns at a later time; after they’ve regained their composure; if this doesn’t happen, this could make the situation worse.

Provide Reassurance. Reassure your children that you are taking all of the appropriate measures to ensure their safety and provide them with support. Reassure your children that they should feel safe in your care.