Supporting Children: War & Natural Disasters

natural disasters

As adults, the world events of this time can be overwhelming. Imagine how it must feel to our children. Our children are growing up in a time of war and natural disasters. They (and/or their friends/school mates) are losing fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters and friends.

The news is full of audio and visuals of war and other catastrophic events. It is important that we talk to our children during these times. Otherwise, it is impossible to know what they are thinking and feeling. They take in information, assimilate it and move on, without realizing they are making decisions and creating their future based on that process. It is all unconscious.

Our children are imprinted with varying amounts of fear from growing up in times of war and natural disasters. They are also imprinted with the compassion of those helping, the pain of those suffering loss and the joy of lives saved. That is a lot to take in for these little people with limited life experience.

We have no idea sometimes how much our children are exposed to on television, school, daycare, friends and the internet. They are immersed in the energy around them. It is essential that we connect with them in conversation ~ heartfelt and with deep presence ~ in order to take a look into their perspective of what is happening in the world. Are they afraid? Are they confused? Are they seemingly unaffected? Are they sad? Are they wishing they could help? Has their life been touched personally in a way that we are not aware of (a friend’s parent or relative lost)?

The goal in connecting with our children in this way is two-fold:

  1. Comfort and safety. If they are feeling afraid or vulnerable in some way, they need to know we are there and they are safe. If they are seeming unaffected and unaware of the events (depends on their age and exposure), we want to simply affirm our presence and their safety.
  2. Processing the truth. Children have limited life experience. We want to make sure that they are getting accurate information (if they are getting information at all), as these events will impact their future and their outlook on life. We cannot change what is happening, but we can change how they internally assimilate the information by conversing with them, sorting through it and creating connection in the midst of chaos.

Here are some things to notice, if you want to be proactive in supporting your children through these challenging times:

  • Unusual behavior (fights, aggression, attitude, withdrawal)
  • Unusual moods / mood swings
  • Depression
  • Trouble in school
  • Trouble focusing
  • Problems with friends and peers
  • Anger / attitude

Use your intuition. There are many ways children can be asking for help. Sometimes they simply feel lost. There are signs. As parents, we are their #1 advocates. It is our job to know our children, to communicate with them, to bridge change, educate them about life and its events, and to protect and nurture them. They need us.

There are many avenues through which information about world events comes into our homes and our lives. Monitor what your children are taking in and have conversations about what that means to them and to the world. Find out what your children are thinking and what they are doing internally with the information and events. More important than how these events impact them is how you communicate with them about the events. You will mitigate potential trauma, build trust and empower them.

How do you do this? Your conversations need to be age-appropriate and based upon where your child is, not where you think they are. (We don’t want to plant seeds of fear where there is no fear.) If you have concerns about your children, if you are looking for a way to bridge a gap or want to know what is age-appropriate, get parenting support and guidance. It will make all the difference for your children now and in their future. I provide a free 15-minute phone consultation. Simply call 951-240-1407 or email me to schedule yours.

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