Crises, such as earthquakes, wars, accidents, and floods, are happening more today. This usually leads to negative repercussions for various families. Parents who have undergone a crisis explained that they are worried about their children’s well-being and who have experienced the same event. For them, learning the steps to respond to their children’s state is often tricky.
One reason parents have difficulty addressing how their children should cope is because these young individuals may feel overwhelmed and vulnerable due to the crisis. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a personal loss, or a global pandemic, children can experience a range of emotions and may struggle to process what’s happening around them.
However, with the right support and coping strategies, children can learn to manage their emotions and feel more in control, especially after a crisis.
The following article will explore behavioral challenges children may experience and ways that can help children cope after a crisis. It will also cover the significance of parents taking care of their emotional well-being and provide strategies for self-care. By implementing these techniques, parents can effectively support their children during difficult times.
Behavioral Challenges That Children Can Have After A Crisis
Experiencing a crisis can profoundly impact children’s emotional and mental health, and they may exhibit a range of behavioral changes as they try to cope with what they have experienced. Here are examples of these behavioral changes:
- Uncontrolled sadness and worry
- Sudden irritation or crying in younger children
- Below-average school performance or absences
- Unexplainable body pain and headaches
- Going back to behaviors that they have outgrown (e.g., toileting accidents or bedwetting)
- Poor sleeping and eating habits
- Evasion from past activities they used to love
- Poor concentration or attention
It is important for parents and support groups, like GIM Foundation, to recognize and address these behavioral challenges. Parents can help children build resilience and develop the skills to overcome adversity by providing them with the resources and support they need to cope.
Ways To Help Children Cope With Crisis
Because of the possible negative impacts of crises on children, it is vital to know how to help them recover. These steps can help build resiliency and avoid trauma and other adverse behavioral changes after the event.
- Validate Their Feelings
Validating a child’s feelings is important in helping them cope with a crisis. When children experience a crisis, they may feel a range of emotions, such as fear, anxiety, confusion, and sadness. Acknowledging and validating these emotions is essential, so they feel heard and understood.
Parents can validate children’s feelings by actively listening to them, expressing empathy, and reassuring them that their emotions are normal and valid. They can also help children identify and label their emotions to learn to recognize and communicate their feelings effectively. When children feel heard and validated, they are more likely to open up and seek help.
- Create A Safe And Secure Environment
Creating a safe and secure environment is another critical step in helping children cope with a crisis. Children thrive on routine and predictability, so it is essential to establish a sense of stability in their lives, especially during times of uncertainty.
Parents can create a safe and secure environment by establishing clear boundaries, routines, and expectations. They can also create a comfortable and familiar space, such as a designated area for play or relaxation.
When children feel safe and supported, they are better equipped to manage their emotions, develop coping skills, and navigate difficult situations.
- Encourage Positive Coping Strategies
Fostering positive coping mechanisms is an essential element in aiding children to handle a crisis. Children must learn healthy ways to manage their emotions and cope with stress and anxiety.
Modeling healthy behaviors, like practicing mindfulness or participating in physical activity, is one way for parents to foster positive coping strategies. They can also teach children coping skills, such as deep breathing, journaling, or engaging in creative activities.
Prioritizing positive coping strategies that align with a child’s personality and interests can also go a long way. For example, some children may benefit from practicing yoga, while others may prefer engaging in team sports. Encouraging children to try different coping strategies and find what works for them can aid in developing healthy habits that will benefit them throughout their lives.
How Parents Can Also Support Themselves
As a parent, witnessing your child struggle with the aftermath of a crisis can be emotionally taxing. Taking care of your own emotional and physical well-being is crucial to effectively support your child. Here are some ways you can take care of yourself while supporting your children through a crisis:
- Seek Support: Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or mental health professionals for emotional support. It can be helpful to talk about your feelings and get an outside perspective on the situation.
- Take Care of Physical Health: Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are all essential for maintaining physical health. Taking care of the body can also help alleviate stress and improve overall mood.
- Practice Self-Compassion: Give yourself permission to feel your emotions and acknowledge that you’re doing your best. Practice self-compassion by being kind and understanding towards yourself.
- Engage In Stress-Reducing Activities: Participate in activities that help you relax and reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation, or reading. Engaging in hobbies or creative activities can also provide a sense of enjoyment and fulfillment.
Parents may often prioritize their child’s well-being over their own when responding to the impacts of a crisis. However, neglecting one’s own emotional and physical health can lead to burnout and hinder the ability to provide effective support for the child. It is important to remember that self-care is not selfish but rather a necessary aspect of maintaining a healthy balance.
Crisis situations can be challenging for children and parents alike. However, by validating their feelings, creating a safe and secure environment, and encouraging positive coping strategies for the children, parents can provide essential support to help the whole family navigate these difficult times.