4 Ways to Help Kids Process a Crisis
Shelter in place.
These are things our children have never encountered and maybe you have found you and your young ones are struggling.
How do we process a pandemic? How do we respond? What can we do to keep fear and panic from filling our children and our homes?
Here are four ways to help you help your tiny tribe of warriors through this crisis:
- Acknowledge their feelings: They need to know it is ok and normal to have all the feelings. What they are facing is unlike anything they have ever seen before. When things are unknown, it causes the emotional part of our brains to go into overdrive. The emotions try to take over how we should live and function every day. This can be overwhelming; especially for your little bambinos! Being overtaken by feelings of sadness, fear, anger, and worry is new for them. Quite frankly, it is scary. They need to know that it is not just them experiencing all of these different concerns. You and I have the opportunity to be a safe place for them to open up and share what is going on inside their brain and heart. When we allow our kids the freedom to express their pain, that is when healing can begin to pour in. They can learn now that they don’t have to hide. Instead, they will know the power of transparency with trusted people around them.
- Keep as much normalcy as possible: You know that routine you had five days a week? Get up, drink coffee, get ready, eat breakfast, drink more coffee(ha!),brush teeth, grab the work bag, put on the backpacks, and out the door you go. . .with one more cup of coffee! Even if your sons and daughters didn’t like that routine every day, they are missing it right now. The routine gave them some control. Children knew what to expect every day. They knew what time they would study math, eat lunch, go home, and etc. By finding a way to stick to what they knew for so long, it will allow normalcy to bring confidence over any fear trying to bombard them. Consistency is powerful in an inconsistent season.
- They are on a “need to know” basis with you: It is important to not share everything you hear. If we struggle with what is being said about the pandemic how much more trauma do you think it could cause them? It is not imperative for them to know the constant updates the news is giving. Your youngsters may not need to be sitting beside you as you scroll your social media accounts for the day. The majority of what you are reading through the flick of your finger is false or opinion-based. If it can cause panic to stir inside of you, it can do far worse to them and their minds. Different ages can process information on a different level. You may have a teenager and a toddler in your home. Keep this in mind. The older they are, the better they will be able to wrap their brains around what is happening. For example: Your Kindergartner may have their school year moved to online learning. Instead of telling them school is over and they do not get to see their teacher anymore, tell them that school is now moving to online learning and they will see their teacher and friends in a new way! The way we communicate details to them will take them a long way through these circumstances. Our words will help their response. As the saying goes, “Ignorance is bliss.” Let’s allow these precious gifts God has given us to see the good in this situation and not fear and dread.
- Teach them how to trust God in the hard times: If I am completely honest with you all, it is so easy for me to trust and worship God when everything is going amazing in my life. It’s easy to talk about Him and how He has a plan filled with good things for me. But what about when all of that changes in the blink of an eye? We are experiencing that right now aren’t we? Everything stopped and took a drastic turn… now what do we do? This is a lesson we can all learn together as a family. Whether we realize it or not, God has given us a wonderful gift. He is giving us an opportunity to teach our kids how to look to Him first in a time of struggle. So, how do we teach them to trust God in this crisis? First, we pray. We seek Him first as Matthew 6:33 tells us. By doing this, we know everything that we have need of will be added unto us. Next, we show them how to read His Word and hold onto its promises. We can look to scriptures like Psalm 91 for His protection. Isaiah 41:10 will remind us that we don’t have to be afraid. Philippians 4:13 will give us the encouragement we need to know that we can do all things because Jesus will give us strength. That means we can get through this situation with Him on our side. Romans 8:28 is the promise that reminds us He will use everything in our life, even this pandemic, for good. Finally, we show them how to worship. Paul and Silas were in jail when their worship set others free around them. By surrendering to God in their cell, it brought breakthrough for the others. Even in our questions, tears, and fears, when our children see us turning to God and realizing that no circumstance defines Him, this will allow our kids to follow our example. Freedom comes to everyone in our abode to walk through this situation knowing God has got this. He was not caught off guard. He is in complete control even when it looks like chaos around us. Knowing that the One who holds the earth in the palm of His hands is on our side will bring great peace to your children.
By walking in these four things, you will find a calmness in your hearts and homes. You can use this as a guide if questions arise. Your children will not know the information they are missing out on so keep the news off. Open God’s Word together and discover things about Him, His goodness, His love, and hope you have never discovered until now. Then, this crisis will move from disaster to blessing for you and your children.
Caris is a Christian Communicator who shares the hope of God through speaking, and leading worship. She is the recent author of Anxiety Elephants 31 Day Devotional. Her passion for the Lord comes through as she shares from her experiences of overcoming depression and anxiety. Her desire is to help women of all ages with their faith and mental health journey.
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