When we read about or experience life-changing events like Hurricane Sandy, it becomes apparent that as caregivers we need to learn how to handle big, stressful and often unplanned events in a way that is not traumatic to our kids. There are many things in life that we just have no control over, but we can control how we react to a crisis. It is important to remember that as parents, the behavior that we model for our children contributes to how traumatizing the event is for them and how they will respond to the crisis as well.
Here are 5 quick things to think about to help keep your family calm during a stressful situation:
1) Do not panic.
Kids will react to how their parents react. Try to keep your anxiety to yourself while in front of the children. Keeping your cool while addressing the seriousness of the situation, assures them that they are safe and do not need to be fearful. Keep in mind that panic creates fear which can take a long time to get over. Fear can escalate and cause nightmares and other anti-social behaviors. Do not use statements like, “we are not safe” or “who will be next?” in front of your children. Your level of calmness will affect your family in a positive way.
2) Distract the kids.
Unless you are in the thick of it and directly effected, distract them from the main events. Keep your children aware of the situation while protecting them from constant exposure to the events on TV. If you are in the midst of it and are experiencing events like a blackout, sit with them and do activities that will keep them engaged like playing a board game, cards or reading books. Call it family time and stay together. This will help keep their minds off the crisis at hand.
3) Talk to them.
Communication is crucial during crisis. Communicate firmly and assuredly. Show courage and they will be able to know that you are in control of the situation. Be honest but do not give them information on every last detail of scary events going on around them.
4) Answer their questions.
Children are very inquisitive. Be sure to answer their questions directly with the facts available. Leaving questions unanswered will only let their imaginations get the better of them and contribute to fear and uncertainty.
5) Deal with the situation long term.
Do not underestimate the effects of stressful situations. Keep on the lookout for any signs of fear and distress and get help.
4 Hour Online Parenting classes as provided by the AJ Novick Group, Inc., are easily accessible from any web-based computer and are a great way for parents to learn new techniques and skills to handle all of life’s curveballs. The course topics include how to manage stress and anger; how to communicate more effectively; when to set boundaries, punishments and rewards; and what to expect at different developmental stages of a child’s life. Online classes are especially beneficial for busy parents because they can be taken when the kids are napping during the day, away at school, or sleeping at night. They do not need to take time away from the family like driving to a classroom based course would. Enrolling in an online parenting class gives caregivers the additional knowledge they need for successful parenting.