This year has alternated between challenging and more challenging depending on how you or your loved ones have been affected by the events in the world. For parents, it is particularly complicated because you are not only trying to deal with your own emotions and reactions to everything happening, but also trying to help your children navigate the changes and issues that continue to arise on a daily basis. To help maintain sanity and to find some peace, here are a few gentle reminders:
1. Take care of yourself first, tagging out to another adult in your child’s life if you need a break. Coping by crying, taking a break from chores, connecting with a friend, crafting- whatever helps feed your soul and gives you a moment to breathe and regain footing.
2. Keep explanations simple for the younger ones. They are getting a lot of information from many sources and will likely need help making sense of it all. Find a trusted and reliable source of information to help guide your narrative and help the teens understand why you chose the source so they can start wading through conflicting information hitting their social media feeds. www.adfontesmedia.com has a nice chart that rates media bias and reliability.
3. Try not to go overboard in making your child “happy” all the time. Use the current challenges to demonstrate coping skills and perseverance. Boredom can lead to creativity. Failure can lead to strength. To help children learn to problem solve builds their own resiliency, with the goal of solving problems on their own.
4. Finally, as Mr. Rogers said, “Look for the helpers.” Try shifting your focus to include good news when it occurs and find examples of heroism and kindness to balance out the negative news. If you feel strong enough, BECOME a helper and encourage your children to do so as well. If you only have enough energy to get through the daily grind, that is OK- success is sometimes a matter of hanging on. But if you have a little more in ya, then go with Gandhi who said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”