I wanted to share some tips on how to parent through a crisis as our family has had our share of crisis when the youngest’s life was in limbo from unforeseen complications from his first liver transplant. With one parent at home and the other in the hospital, it was distressing enough for as adults, but it was even more challenging for our kids.
What we learned during that time – and given the current situation in our world – I wanted to share with you some tidbits.
- Kids are resilient.
This is something I learned as I reflect on my own childhood but then also look back on how my kids maneuvered the crises we faced. Kids tend to go with the flow, have the ability to accept what is just a little bit more and are able to bounce back when things normalize – whatever that new normal may look like.
- It’s okay to limit them to information.
When our son was hospitalized we didn’t share the severity of the situation with them – in part to protect them – but mainly to keep the anxiety, stress and worry to a minimum. We adults carried that enough and the kids didn’t need that so that they could focus on school, friends and being kids.
We limited them how much they would come to the hospital – it wasn’t until he was off most of the machines that we were a little bit more inclined to bring them for visits.
- Behavioral changes are normal and to be expected.
There’s no denying that we experienced a bit of rebellion with our children, from trying to run away from home, being suspended in school and yes being a bit more combative. This is normal. Something that I learned from my own training but also being on the receiving end of therapy, your child may not have the vocabulary and understanding of their own emotions – so acting out is a way for them to show you that they are not okay. Be patient, meet them where they are and give them a little compassion too! They are probably feeling all the things you are – no matter how much you try to protect them.
- Stick to routine as much as possible.
As much as your kids may want to rebel against anything you say, part of them wants routine. Having a routine helps them feel a little bit more safe during times of uncertainty. They know what to expect and helps reduce again the anxiety, fear and worry they may be experiencing.
- Give them space to feel the emotions
If your child is angry, sad, worried etc, allow them to feel that. Find ways for them to express it whether it be through creating art, keeping a journal or holding a conversation. Don’t necessarily ask them what makes them angry because they may not be able to explain it but perhaps you could ask what it feels like inside of them. And give them space without denying their feelings.
I hope you find these tips on how to parent through a crisis useful – and you will come out of it on the other side whatever it is you are facing!