By Ava Parnass RN MSN CS
In the wake of an already unprecedented year-long crisis, we had another unimaginable current event unfold in front of our eyes – with our children watching front and center. Traumatized, yet again. As parents, we are so weary with extraordinary overwhelming parenting – yet again!
We are tired angry hurt confused and our country has let us down. Our children are confused, worried, scared, and lonely. Why? Because they see adults having tantrums – acting in ways that they are taught to never behave.
And yet, in the midst of all this, we must again find the strength to remind ourselves, that as adults we must find ways to continue to find and provide hope. Hope for ourselves, our families, and our children. For what purpose? Because hope is the one thing that will get all of us through these crises. Hope builds resilience in the long run and tames the fear and modulates future post-traumatic stress.
After speaking to hundreds of children about what they like and don’t like about the pandemic, there is one common theme of interest. The children all referenced an unexpected “Silver Lining” that we can capitalize on that will help us all get through these troubled times. We are our children’s umbrella in the rain and their shield in the line of fire. They look to us for safety.
What children also need us to get through these turbulent global events is our time, attention, empathy, calmness, listening, and inhaling fun.
While that may feel like we’re not doing much, that is exactly what children need to thrive. All we have to do is listen, hear what they feel, absorb what they think, and give validation to how they want to express their feelings. Don’t be overly focused on the minutia – but hear them out helping them live through the feelings and getting to the other side.
And, have fun!
Yes, have fun!
While this may sound counter-intuitive, try having some fun with “feelings”. Go ahead and dance your feelings, turn on the music and sing, vent, read stories, take a walk, have real conversations as you talk about what is on your mind. Participate together in calming coping strategies if needed. Walking, mindful breathing, tapping, laughing, silly games, playing chase, hide, and seek. Have fun! Laugh, cry, and bond even more through these times.
If you need some more suggestions on how to have “fun with feelings” – try “The Petal Parenting Techniques” – specifically written for times of crises and beyond. The Feelings Maps are also a great interactive collaborative activity. You can find it on my website here.
An excerpt of The PETAL Technique and The Feelings Map that kids love to work on with parents are below.
If you have a group that may wish to ask for more of this conversation, I welcome a Zoom call. Or, if you would like to learn more via an interview- please contact me.
Thank you – Ava