Calming Kids Fears in Tough Situations
I’m a worrier. I worry by nature. I come from a long line of worry warts. It’s pretty safe to assume that worrying is in my DNA. However, having kids has taught me that as much as I want to worry or need to worry… I simply can’t do it in front of the kids.
Oh sure they see me do some worrying but I try not to let them see me worry about the big stuff. It turns out kids are like little receptors for all emotions. If they see you feeling something – they will need to feel it too. Often they don’t even know why they feel the way they do, they just know that if you’re doing it (like worrying) then there must be a reason and they need to join in.
Last week we had a worry filled event when the hubby had to have emergency surgery on his arm. It
was of course unexpected, and I left the kids with family while I accompanied their dad to the hospital for a sudden hospital stay.
I know they worried and had questions. They wanted to know if dad was OK. If I was coming home soon, if they would make it to school on time (did I mention school started last week too?). Who would be at home to get them to school? A lot of questions that I couldn’t answer immediately. It’s an unsettling feeling really, to know that you don’t know the answers and have to calm their worries and also keep them from picking up on your own worries.
Time has taught me that when the kids have worries or concerns the best way to deal with them is head on and not to sidestep the issues. Of course I wasn’t dishing out the down and dirty details of what happened with their dad, but I knew that dodging their questions would only make matters worse.
One thing that is important when dealing with kids’ questions and fears about a situation is to not take it lightly. Their fears are just as real as yours are; even if they seem childish to you – remember you are dealing with kids!
I also try to give as much direct information to the kids as possible. I don’t want things going through
the grapevine. Even if it is coming from grandma or another family member, information can get lost in translation or exaggerated. There’s no reason to alarm kids more than needed.
Giving them information that is over their head and beyond their comprehension doesn’t help them either; it only confuses and worries kids more. As much as possible, I tell them what is age appropriate. You know your kids best so you know what they can handle. Another great reason for making you the person to answer their questions in the first place instead of another family member or friend.
Lastly, I give them information in sections. Giving them too much too fast is like letting them overdose on cotton candy; seems like an OK idea at the time but in the end, it doesn’t come out well. Kids can handle a lot but hitting them with everything all at once can overwhelm them. Give them time to process what you’re telling them and give them a chance to ask questions if needed.
I love my kids and want them to be as informed as they can be when tough situations happen but I also don’t want them to be overwhelmed or scared.
How do you handle talking to your kids about tough issues or situations?