In my introductory parenting class, I talk about “Wild Cards.” They are events that happen in a family that impact our children. “Wild Cards” can be things like moving, deployments, illness, financial challenges, changing schools, divorce, blending families, etc. Many times, we don’t recognize that these life events create a crisis at home. I share with my families that if your child is acting peculiar or is more sensitive than usual, has withdrawn or something similar, you may want to look at recent “Wild Cards.”
A few years ago, my daughter’s best friend moved. Their house was being sold and they had no choice. That threw her for a loop! For her, that was a crisis. When you are used to running across the street for “girl time,” spending the night on a moment’s notice, and seeing each other daily … well, you know how much of a bummer that would be! Children don’t always know how much they are impacted by certain events, but their behaviors and moods can tell us a lot.
Here are 3 tips to help you handle “Wild Cards” / crisis at home:
Tip #1: Find out if you’ve missed a “Wild Card” in your child’s life.
Depending on their age, they may be able to tell you. Did a friend change classrooms or schools? Did a friend stop being friends? (That will throw girls off instantly!) Is someone they know sick? Has anything changed at home recently? A birth? A death? Money? You can ask teachers about any changes at school too. Try to narrow down when you noticed a shift in their behavior or mood, and look to see what happened around that time. I can’t tell you how many times parents suddenly say “Oh!!” and they realize what is going on.
Tip #2: What do you need to do about it?
Is this something you can fix? Is it something you can change? Will an explanation make a difference? Is it temporary or permanent? What does it mean to your child? Are they feeling abandoned? Betrayed? Sad? Scared? You want to find out where they are, so you can meet them there, reassure them, and handle the situation appropriately.
Tip #3: Nurture. Connect. Hold. Stay close.
No matter what has occurred, and the level of permanence, you will want to make sure you are an avenue of continued connection for your child. They may only need short-term consolation, or they may need longer term support. Be approachable. Be understanding. Listen. You will learn a tremendous amount about your child through this process. This is an important time. You can miss it, or you can utilize this opportunity to build trust with your child. I recommend building trust. It will serve you both for years to come!
If the change is something that is also impacting you deeply, you may find it challenging at times to be there for your child. If this is the case, I recommend getting support. You will need help to get through this, and you do not want to leave your child behind in the process. There are many ways to approach “Wild Cards” and the impact they have. However, the longer they go unattended, the harder it is to work through them (yet, not impossible).
Use this time to build a bridge in your parent child relationship. Life is full of seasons, and storms are inevitable. Take these opportunities to teach your children how to maneuver through storms. Then their life won’t be so quick to fall apart when a crisis hits, now or when they have their own family.
If you would like additional information or assistance with “Wild Cards” and crisis at home, contact me for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation (951-240-1407 to schedule). For simple parenting tips, take advantage of our free monthly newsletter.