As a parent, you want to make sure that your children are getting through life’s challenges in an emotionally healthy way. But when you’re dealing with a crisis at home, such as an illness, death in the family, or even one of the kids getting into trouble, it can be hard to cope. You’re likely feeling overwhelmed yourself. The good news is that there are many ways to help your children weather a crisis, and they aren’t to avoid the subject. Here are some tips for helping your kids cope during difficult times:
Don’t Keep Your Concerns to Yourself
When your life is falling apart, you may feel like you’re on an island. Whether you are coping with an impending divorce, a child who is getting into alcohol or drugs, or you’re coping with your own mental health struggles, it’s okay to reach out for help. When children are in crisis, especially related to drugs or alcohol, you might need to look to professionals like the ones at Muir Wood rehab not too far from San Rafael, or ones located close to San Francisco. In times of crisis, the best thing you can do for your family is to ensure that you are getting the support you need so that you can more effectively parent.
Speak With Your Child’s Teacher
When there is a crisis in the home, sometimes kids act out at school and in other situations. Ask for a meeting with the teacher so you can let them know that your family is going through a crisis and to find out if your child is struggling in any way. This is especially important when one child is not the focus of the crisis. They can feel left out and alone if you are investing all your energy at home toward one of your children.
Look for Signs of Stress in Your Child
Some children struggle to sleep when they are stressed. Others might complain of stomach aches. Some children become irritable and hard to parent. These are all signs that your child is trying to manage their stress. As a parent, come alongside your child with love and understanding to help him or her get through this tough time. They need to know that you see them and you hear them.
Set Aside a Time to Connect With Your Children Each Day
One of the unfortunate things that happens during a family crisis is that your children feel disconnected from you as the parent. Talk to them when they get home, take your older kids out for coffee to hang out, open up conversations and be ready to listen without defending yourself. Play blocks, dinosaurs, or cars with your little ones. These are important moments that create stability for your children.
Take Care of Yourself, Too
When you as the parent are struggling, the whole family feels it. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself neglecting your own health and that can impact your children even more. Make sure you eat healthy meals, get enough sleep at night, and focus on staying active. These little self-care habits can go a long way in a crisis. You can even make time for relaxing as a whole family so that you get some downtime as well.
It’s OK to Let Your Emotions Show
Your kids can see you cry when you are upset. It’s okay. In fact, it’s probably best to let some of your emotions show in front of them. This can help your children feel more comfortable showing their raw emotions to you as well. Be open with each other about how you feel about the situation can help everyone in the home feel more connected and vulnerable with each other.
Provide Structure and Predictability
A structure can create safety for your children. When they know what to expect, it can help them manage the other stressors that are arising due to the crisis at home. Create a set bedtime, a set time for chores, a set time for play. These structures can be a little flexible, but the more consistent and predictable you are during times of crisis, the better.
Give Your Kids Control Over Small Things
As you look to create structure and routine in your life, be sure to give your kids control over small things. Let them choose a movie to watch or what to eat for dinner that night. If you’re going out with friends, let them pick the snacks you bring with you. Even if it seems silly or insignificant at first glance, giving your child this kind of autonomy may help him or her feel more secure in times when he or she feels out of control.