Terrorism is the unlawful and threatening use of violence used against a country, state or the public; fueled by religious and political means. This may be the answer you find yourself giving your teenager after much thought, when they simply ask you as a parent ‘what does the media mean when it talks about the word terrorism?’ For every parent, this topic of conversation has become a real reality in the wake of such terrorism around the world. Instinctually, like animals, we have this compulsive need to protect our young. So much so, that most of our parenthood is learning how to let go of those invisible reins; appreciating the older our children become the more they strive for independence. So, what should we do when we are faced with a strong, compelling urge to push everything out of harm’s way to protect our loved ones and most precious, our children when plagued with repetitive footage in every social media corner? When does receiving important information that keeps us alert become damaging to our mental state?
Unfortunately, I have been asked this question one too many times in the face of the dreadful terrorist acts we have all been witness to over the last several years and now presently. I believe the real answers to this challenge lie in the realization of how much we can realistically control. Meaning, the realistic measures we can make for our family without fearing them into a place of hibernation. Even for someone like myself who has had thousands of hours’ practice talking to families about difficult situations; the fact still remains that this subject is a trying one because emotionally it is so hard for us all to comprehend that such monstrosities are happening time and time again. The truth is though, as tough as these conversations are they need to be had, even if you don’t want to have them. Keeping these lines of communication open and honest with your children keeps you close as a family and helps your children to feel reassured and informed with the facts and advice you share at times like this. Please read below some advice and tips that will help you make this conversation a smoother easier.
- It’s okay that you do not know all the answers as a parent. Like anyone else right now, when tragic events like this happen you are gathering information like everyone else to assess the situation. It is in your assessment that you can truly make important decisions moving forward for your family family’s safety. Let them know you don’t have the answers to some of their questions but that you will look into it so that you can give them more answers to the ongoing questions they are asking.
- Your knee-jerk reaction inside could be one of hysterics, trying desperately to keep yourself grounded. Your composure and how you deliver your information will allow you to articulate with more clarity and that energy conveyed will feel safe to your children. Think of little children, when people are running around manic, they sense the panic and become very fretful. This is not to say that you cannot express the situation at hand is not worrisome or concerning but, this composure shows a sense of stillness and comfort to your children listening.
- Be mindful that your responses and explanations are age appropriate. Ask your children what they have seen and heard before you throw too much information their way remembering small children like toddlers will not necessarily be aware of what is going on around them. So, there is no need to have this conversation, as to part with such information would just make them frightened. However, your 7 or 8-year-old may have heard bits and pieces from school. Finding out what they have heard FIRST is most important as it gives you the chance to dispel any fake news.
- Use your instincts to answer questions and reassure based on the information your children give you; keeping the dialogue open for them to feel comfortable to ask another question. Please keep in mind that your children could be showing you outward or inward emotions. So be sure to comfort and validate their feelings with lots of affection and hugs, letting them know they can ask you questions anytime.
- Monitoring media will be very important as overplay can certainly lead to a lot of emotional regression. Which in turn can create even more stress and anxiety. What we want as parents is to support and keep conversations open to create an understanding, ultimately building more mental resilience.
- Information and attitude should always be kept positive. For example, what has happened is tragic but, the community is coming together and the country is coming together to support one another at such times. Kindness is strength and together we stand.
- Perspective is always key, geographically we need to look at where these attacks are taking place, what impact that has on our daily lives, and even though we may keep away from certain places, there are other daily activities that we will continue to do like work, school, and sleep-overs. This shows our children the sense of realistic measure we take when things happen like this in the world. The older your children are the more they will understand.
- The bottom line is, your kids want to know, ‘what happened, why is it happening, and am I safe?’ We know as adults that we live in a world that is volatile. But, I believe it is every parent’s duty to reassure their children they are safe, because let’s face it if we can’t as their parents who can? http://www.jofrost.com
Copywritten Jo Frost
When children are reading it can have a wonderful calming effect on them. Reading doesn’t just give children a head-start in learning; the ritual of sharing a story and providing special time for parents and carers to build a strong and loving relationship with their children is vital.
I believe every childhood should be enriched by books, and all children should get to experience the joy of a story. Reading for pleasure has a dramatic impact on educational outcomes, well-being and social mobility and enables children to develop their speech and language skills, their literacy skills and their imaginations with escapism to jump into a fantasy world of books they will love to read. http://www.jofrost.com
Homesick is the word that most parents tell me they feel if they have to work away often or for long periods of time if they are in the military. There is no right or wrong or any quick fix to this except to live through it. Obviously allowing yourself to feel a little sad about this is a necessary part of moving forward while living with the circumstances. It is also important to work on adapting to the situation so you are focused on the work at hand that you have to do, and by example to show your children that they need to do the same, focusing on their school work and having fun with their friends. If you expect to get down about it then you will and it can be especially difficult around the holidays with all the festivities. Recognize that the people at home naturally feel the same way and always let your children know that it is about mom/dad going to work. As leaving or going away are words that children can take very literally. Remember when you are back home don’t organize huge get together, focus on the family time that you need with one another. http://www.jofrost.com
If you are a parent in a relationship and have become a primary or secondary child carer and guardian for the children you are raising from a previous marriage, then I do believe you have every right as your dutiful obligation to raise these children well. Most parents avoid this conversation as they are fearful of the confrontation it may bring. Allocating time to communicate with your partner helps to strengthen the partnership and resolving these issues leads to better parenting together. When children see one parent feel helpless it is easy for them to manipulate the situation based on the breakdown between the parents. In turn this doesn’t benefit the child but create and uneven ground for them. Being on the same page and having healthy boundaries in place leads to healthier relationships where there is a love and respect mutually between you and your partner and your children. The key to all resolution is communication so don’t let the fear cripple you and be encouraged to talk.
I have a three-year-old son, Monty, who has been climbing out of his crib for several weeks now and only wants to sleep in our guest bedroom, which has a twin bed. So we figured it was time to replace his crib and got a toddler bed for his room.
To make it fun, we went and bought him Mickey Mouse Sheets and Diego Sheets and a new blankey just for bedtime. The first night he slept no problem. The 2nd and 3rd nites he came out about 50 times each, we used positive reinforcement for the 1st 15 times and after that, we threatened taking away toys. Finally, we took all the toys out of his room. And then he finally fell asleep.
The next morning, I decided to try and make a chart for the days of the week and each morning if he stayed in his bed, he’d get a sticker and then we’d do something on the reward list. So he stayed in his bed for 1 nite and then we went to Chuck E Cheese as a reward, but that following night, again he was out until all hours of the evening until I finally said to my husband, let’s put him in our bed, and he fell asleep right away.
I am not the type of mommy to have kids stay in my bed; I am not a softy at all! We’re trying everything, we stopped napping him so he’d be tired for bedtime, but that is turning out to be a disaster because he is a wreck by 2pm. I even put on some lullaby music and that put him to sleep, the next night, but failed to work last night. My son, husband and myself are exhausted and need sleep!
Hi Monty’s Mom,
When I read this letter, it made me feel dizzy. One minute he was in the guest bedroom, then he was in a toddler bed, then in your bed, then he was going to Chuck E Cheese and then he was up all night. Now, you’re giving him a concert with music and he’s wondering what else you’re going to give him the next time!
It’s because there’s no consistency. You want it to be on your terms that he falls asleep and you’re not in control of the situation right now, so you keep trying other things. But the reality is that you haven’t committed to one technique and stayed with it.
What I suggest is this: make up your mind that you’re not giving in, one way or the other. I would put a bedrail on the side of his bed so he doesn’t fall out of it. I would create a proper bedtime routine for him so that he doesn’t feel like he’s being rushed to bed. I would read stories, come out of the room and continue to do the stay in bed technique and STAY WITH IT. No technique takes longer than seven days.
I bet Monty is the same as him mom and that it’s a battle of the wills. He knows that now he has you wrapped around his finger. And right now, he doesn’t have one thing consistent and it’s hard for them to have that. He slept in the big bed because it was new and different and mommy left him in there. Trust me, Diego sheets aren’t going to get him to go to sleep, but a consistent response is. It doesn’t matter how many times he comes out, you have to be consistent with your response.
I’ve just put a three year old, still breastfeeding (who has never been in her bedroom) in bed with the stay n’ bed technique. It took an hour and forty-five minute the first night and the second night it only took three attempts. The third night, she just went in her bed and stayed in it. He’s going to keep pushing unless you stay consistent. Children like routine and consistency; it makes them feel safe and secure. He will go to sleep if you follow through!
BACK TO SCHOOL
Going back to school, or even going to school for the first time is a new chapter for every family. With so much information at our fingertips it can become rather confusing as to what we should prioritize for the months ahead and support our children to the level that they need us. So to make it really easy, as I’m sure right now you are running around buying school shoes and supplies, here is what I suggest you remember under the acronym of S-C-H-O-O-L.
And remember, it’s all about the long-term goals…
S – Schedule
Every family follows this in order to be consistent. Creating one will maintain all the cornerstones that create balance for us. Giving us enough energy to focus, sustain and achieve. Sleep for example and getting enough of it becomes the benefit of having one of these in place.
C – Communication
The only way to gauge how our children are when it comes to their well-being at school is to talk about their day. Collecting information makes us aware of the friends they are making, the teachers they have a rapport with, the classes they find challenging, and what they are enjoying. Making it a priority every day to talk about their day also helps them to share and off-load any worries they may have. The benefits of doing so keep you connected as a family.
H – Homework
We all get it, it’s how we handle it that’s important. Teaching them to manage and prep assignments so that our children can stay on top of deadlines is an important discipline to learn. Find areas in your home that promote good concentration, regulate screen and tabloid times. Go over homework that your children are unsure about so that we as parents can do our utmost in helping our children through those academic challenges.
O – Organize
Your child’s time table with them if not old enough to do it by themselves so they become more responsible and aware of their everyday activities. Ie: the books they need, PE (gym) kits, musical instruments, art supplies. All of this practice sharpens their memory skills and in its entirety it helps to run an effective household.
O – Outside
Because everybody needs the fresh air and the balance of school and home life! So up those play dates to develop your toddler’s socialization skills let the tween study together and have sleep overs. Carve time out for family time where you all can be active nd support the hobbies you all enjoy. A drizzle of rain never hurt anyone, let the kids play outside with other, after homework, before homework. Enroll, them in after-school clubs, remember being outside does wonders for our wellbeing and reduces stress, and in turn that helps a child with any school term.
L – Lunch
Maintaining fitness on any level is not just how we move our body it is about what we put in it. Reducing spiked blood sugar levels is critical to our health, and being consistent with our food plan and prepared with creative options is all part of keeping our body strong for he back to school season. So, prepare food the night before, get your kids involved in their options, freeze up homemade food, and keep those fruits and veggies flowing. Know what your kids are eating at school and change up your lunch boxes frequently.