Protecting My Kids From Getting Freaked Out
Protecting My Kids From Getting Freaked Out
Dear Tacit,

With all the terrible things happening in the world right now, how do I protect my kids from getting freaked out?

Signed: A Worried Parent

Dear A Worried Parent,

There is no doubt that there are a lot of horribly negative things happening in our world right now – across the seas and closer to home.  Frustration levels are running high.  Conversations on social media, TV and radio news, and at the dinner tables are highlighting people’s pains, worries and fears.  As a parent, it is our job to help protect our children from being too traumatically and stressfully impacted by what they might see/hear.  At the same time, we want to also make sure they know a bit about what is happening, so they can learn and understand about the world they live in.  It can be a tricky balancing act to manage.

Make sure to talk to your kids about what is going on (in age-appropriate ways, of course).  You want to encourage them to ask questions and share what they are thinking.  When we don’t know enough, the mind fills in the gaps with images that are often much worse/scarier than reality.  We can get stuck imagining the worst-case possibilities unless we have actual facts/truths to hold onto instead.  You need to be the filter for your child.  You can help answer questions and clarify the information your kids are receiving.  You can become the anchor they turn to, for a proper understanding of what is going on.

And by having regular conversations with your children, you are also able to measure the stress they might be experiencing.  If it becomes necessary, you can get them additional support before a massive problem (anxiety, depression, fear) develops.  You can monitor the balance of what is filling their thoughts, making sure the scary things are only a small portion.  You can help your kids disengage from the bad things that upset them, by limiting the exposure they have to these negative events.  And by ensuring that they have lots of positive connections to people and activities that fill them up with the love, caring, and hope that also exists in the world around them.

One of the ways to do this is to find ways for your kids to show empathy and caring to others who are being negatively affected by all the bad things that are happening.  Empower your kids to take action and become the change they think is needed.  When they feel helpless and powerless over the atrocities that they see, their anxiety and stress get fed.  But if they feel they can help make things better, even in a small way, they will regain a sense of control over the situation and be able to anchor to something other than the negativity.  By actively becoming the calm, positive force they see as a right/good thing, they create the very strength within themselves that the negativity is threatening.  This can change the world, when enough people do it.

Finally, be aware of how the events of the day are impacting you, as the parent.  Our kids hear and sense more than we think they do.  They pick up on our emotional reactions and our stress, even if we aren’t verbalizing it.  So, if you have strong feelings or opinions about something that is going on, know that you are passing those perspectives along to your children.  Are you walking your positive walk – or getting bogged down into the negativity yourself?  Are you focusing on the pain and suffering and unfairness in the world – or are you trying to see and be the good and the blessings in life?  Emulate what it is you want your kids to think, feel and do.  If you handle it all as a family, you will be protecting your children in every way possible.

Take care!

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