As a parent and parent coach, I needed to address the events of these last few weeks. I am feeling a host of competing emotions; sadness, anger, fear, worry and anxiety, so I know many of you are feeling it too.
Our collective fears and anxieties that these incidents fuel in us are having worrisome effects within our children too. How do we quell our own concerns and sadness while supporting our children through these events?
There is so much going on right now; not one single cause for all this anguish & anxiety. A non-stop barrage of social media in which our kids are constantly attuned, a heightened political climate, school shootings, domestic violence, worries & fears about living within a pandemic and now what’s being called “eco anxiety” or climate depression. Children have deep concerns as a side effect of climate change. They are highly concerned about their future.
Our kids are feeling increasing levels of anxiety & sadness.
According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 1 in 3 people ages 13 to 18 experience an anxiety disorder and a study published in April 2018 in the Journal of Development and Behavioral Pediatrics found that anxiety diagnoses in children ages 6 to 17 increased 20 percent between 2007 and 2012. 4.4 % of kids aged 3-17 years have diagnosed depression.
These events can be incomprehensible to adults, so how can we talk about them with our kids? What can we as parents do to help our kids process all the scary news out there?
Limit Exposure to Breaking News – be informed for yourself, but don’t watch endless hours of news. Gather the facts and walk away. Turn off the TV or podcasts. These feelings stay with us longer if we don’t take breaks. This goes for your kids too. Don’t have the news always playing in the background for them to hear endless stories of tragedy.
For Big Stories Ask your Kids, “What have you heard and how are you feeling? – during more quiet times like at dinner, ask them about the incidents of the day, what do they think and what are they feeling? Give your kids a safe space to talk and share.
Give your Kids Facts and Context – tell them the truth about what is going on. The best thing we can do in this scary climate is to talk about the facts and try not to have your own fears spill over into the conversation.
When your Kids ask you “Why” Something Happened – don’t be afraid of saying, “I don’t know” Sometimes, we don’t have all the answers. . Resisting the urge to call people “bad”, or “evil”. Instead talk about people being in pain, being angry and making bad choices.
Encourage Younger Kids to Reconstruct through Art or Play – it’s called “meaning making”. It’s very helpful for kids to reconstruct their concerns through art and play. It helps to minimize their fears and to make sense of tragedies.
Take Positive Action Together – participate in peaceful rallies about guns, or climate change. Write to an elected official together. Talk to your kids about which organizations they’d like to donate, or help with their next charity event. Showing your child that you are a helper and taking positive action might jumpstart their interest in getting involved. Kids seeing your involvement and in turn participating in causes can greatly reduce their own anxieties.
I invite and encourage you to reach out for a complimentary session to discuss your feelings and to learn how to address these concerns with your kids. I want to hear from you, so please don’t hesitate to call.
In addition, I’d love to invite you for a group chat where we can engage with one another and talk about the events of the day and our collective concerns within the world and our individual families. Email me and let me know if you or a bunch of your friends are interested in having a group zoom where we can listen to each other and connect on these issues.
These times call for conversation and understanding. Let’s be there for one another.