We are hurting collectively as humans right now – in a myriad of ways. But those of us who are parents have another layer of reality to deal with – helping our kids make sense of a world gone mad. We’re reeling from the events of the past hours, days, weeks and months, but we still have to parent our children. And right now, we are all questioning how this should look.
If you’re like us, you’re asking yourself…”how can I be a good parent when the world seems to be falling apart around my family?” and “how can I make my kids feel safe when I don’t feel safe…at all?” The truth is, we have quite a challenge before us – to instill a sense of calm and safety in our children when we ourselves are afraid…for our country, our world and our children’s futures. In this article, we share recommendations that will help you navigate parenting in distressing times and making sense of difficult topics.
Stay informed, but NOT inundated
Our first recommendation – and possibly the most important – is to avoid the news. Your children are watching what you do and gauging your reaction to upsetting world events. If you want to keep them feeling safe and calm, you must BE calm. Now, you may feel compelled to push back on this, thinking “But I need to stay informed for the sake of my family. I have to know what’s going on.” We understand wanting to stay on top of what’s happening, but you do not have to be inundated. When you’re overwhelmed, low-level fear infiltrates everything you do even if you’re not aware of it. And your kids pick up on it.
But you can have both…you can stay on top of the news AND preserve your family’s well-being by checking the news just once a day – preferably mid-morning or early afternoon. Try not to watch the news right before bed or soon after you wake-up as these are times for calmness and centering. So, sometime during the middle of the day, set a timer for 30-45 minutes to catch up on the news. Then, turn it all back off and go on with your life. By limiting your media intake right now you will begin to feel more calm. This, in turn, will send a powerful message to your kids that everything is okay thinking “If mom and dad aren’t freaking out, then I don’t have to.” You might even try having meditative, soothing music on during the day rather than the news – it’ll change your life.
Talk to your kids about what’s happening and how they’re feeling
While it’s not a good idea to let children watch the news, it is okay to talk to them about what’s happening if they’re old enough to understand. They are no doubt hearing some of your conversations about it or even hearing it from friends. You can explain (in terms they can understand) what is happening in a calm and matter-of-fact way. Then, assure them that you will monitor the situation and they do not have to worry.
As part of this conversation, it’s not a bad idea to ask your kids what they’ve heard about recent events and how it makes them feel. Then validate whatever emotions they’re having with reponses like “I understand that you’re feeling upset,” Or “It’s okay to feel angry.” Teaching your child that all emotions are okay begins with allowing them the space and freedom to feel whatever they feel. When we tell our kids “Stop crying already,” or “It’s really not that big a deal,” we invalidate their emotional experience in the world. So, tell them their feelings are normal and you’re there for them anytime they need to talk.
Start a meditation practice with your kids – NOW
Right now is the perfect time to introduce your kids to meditation to help calm their nervous systems, reduce cortisol production and relieve stress. Meditation has so many beautifully restorative powers and has the added benefit of allowing you special times to bond with your kids. Just be aware that not all types of meditation work well for kids. Kids need short, guided meditation tracks one or two times a day to reap the greatest reward. The great news is meditation for kids offers vast improvements in as little as two minutes a day. We created Ninja Focus just for that reason – to allow kids to reap the benefits of meditation in the most kid-friendly way possible.
We hope you’ll try our recommendations to help you and your kids navigate the chaos that surrounds us right now. We know you can do it. It’s so important.