These last few months have presented families with a lot of changes and challenges. Many kids have experienced loss as a result of all that has transpired, and with loss often comes grief. Now we are facing a transition into the summer months, and moving forward in the fall kids will experience another transition as they return to school. With all of these changes and transitions, and being out of practice with the typical school routines, we can expect that kids may experience many new and uncomfortable emotions. Now more than ever, it is important that we model healthy coping skills for our children. How we adults handle these issues impacts how our kids will handle them. It is essential that we take good care of ourselves!
It can be helpful to teach in direct and indirect ways. Talk with your children, encourage them to share, and be available to listen and offer support. Also, orchestrate conversations about healthy ways you like to manage your emotions within earshot of the kids. This is a more subtle way to teach kids.
As you are encouraging your child to share, you might try out these statements:
- I wonder if you'd like to share how you're feeling.
- Let me know how I can help.
- If anyone can go through that and be okay, I know you can.
Because we love our children, we often want to "fix" everything and make their uncomfortable emotions go away. In our current situation this isn’t always possible and that's okay. Coping skills can be developed and character is built when kids experience struggle. When parents don't know what to say, or can't make things easier, just focus on being a loving parent and a great listener.
Ask your kids what they know about coping skills/strategies. You might ask them what has helped them to feel better when they’ve felt sad, worried, angry or stressed in the past. Having your kids teach you is a good way to help them reflect on what they already know.
Love and Logic teaches that there is great hope for kids who have experienced trauma, loss or other types of pain. How well they cope rests on three essential pillars:
- Nurturing relationships: The adults in their lives being unconditionally loving and responsive.
- Healthy expectations: These are found in the form of loving limits with kids. Limits show love and they help kids to know what is expected of them.
- Success opportunities: Helping your child recognize their successes. Notice their success and make statements such as, "I imagine that feels really good."
Foster Cline (co-founder of Love and Logic) reminds us that life is full of pain and loss, we cannot avoid it. However, there is hope in knowing that children can come out of grief "polished like a stone" after going through a little rough grinding that makes it/them shine.
Empowering Kids and Helping them Recognize How Capable they Are