How Do We Guide Our Children Through Uncertain Times?

This is a collaborative post 

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We all know that children thrive in environments where they feel safe and secure. And at the moment, security can seem very far away. In uncertain times, it can be hard enough to regulate our own thoughts and prevent anxiety from spiralling, let alone doing the same for kids whose emotions and fears can be hard to untangle. Uncertainty can come in many forms, sometimes prompted by small changes, sometimes by larger ones, and kids are very acute at picking up on a parent’s emotions and worries, no matter how well we try to hide it. So how can we give our children comfort, emotional support and resilience when those very things feel in short supply for everyone?

Make Time To Talk

Often we assume that kids will come to us if they need to talk about something concerning them,but this isn’t always the case, especially if we come across as being preoccupied or worried ourselves. And although making time to talk may sound like something that will naturally occur, between work, household chores and other responsibilities, it can be surprisingly hard to do. How often have you said ‘Not right now’ lately, just through having a lot on your plate? The current lockdown situation hasn’t helped, with adults and children understandably scared and completely out of a normal routine, many trying to combine work and childcare at the same time. If things do come up at a time when you really can’t deal with them – right in the middle of a conference call, or cooking a meal for example – try to make it clear you do really want to talk about the problem, and that you will come to them as soon as possible –  and make sure you follow up on it.

Be Honest

Of course there are some details of any situation it wouldn’t be appropriate to share with children, but trying to conceal the truth of a situation can be just as damaging. So think carefully, and agree in advance with other parents, what your children should be told when a negative situation occurs. It’s likely they will pick up on the processes that are going on at some point anyway, whether that is finding a law firm for personal injury accident,  undergoing a big life change such as redundancy or divorce, or dealing with something like the death of a family member. Explain the situation in a way that works for their age and reassure them that things are under control.

Learn To Listen

Developing listening skills is a whole area of progress on it’s own – because when kids come to you with a worry or a concern, you have to make sure that they feel heard. Aim not to tell them how they should feel about a situation – accept that their emotional response to something may be very different from your own – but encourage them to explain, and tell them it’s okay to feel worried, upset or anxious about things. Guiding them from the purely emotional reaction to a more considered response is what you want to aim for.

Encourage Problem Solving

Much as we would all love to be able to swoop in and take away our kid’s problems, it is far more valuable to teach kids how to problem solve for themselves, using questions rather than stepping in with answers. Ask them to suggest a way to solve the issue they are encountering. Of course, what they come up with may be unworkable for a range of reasons, but it’s a good point to ask them what they think might happen if they followed a certain course of action, and teach them how to think through the consequences of any potential action. This is a skill that it’s always worth developing, and a gift you can give them for adult life.

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