Doing Life Together

crying-1315546_1920Today, so many children have to cope with stress and trauma beyond what we would like to see for them. Technology and media have brought events of trauma into our everyday lives. News stories of rape, murder, teen shootings, kidnappings, suicide, AIDS and HIV, life threatening diseases, terror and most recently war are just a few of the daily topics of news. It’s a lot for children to properly digest. They need our help.

When a child struggles with issues related to safety, you may notice headaches, stomach aches, irritability, trouble sleeping, withdrawal and wanting to be close to home, appetite changes, fears of going to school and changes in behavior. So how can you, as parents, help your children handle the stress of today?

Consider the ages of your children, their temperaments and their interest and knowledge of unsafe events. Preschool children should be sheltered from news and global terror. They cannot make sense of these horrifying events. Younger children need lots of reassurance. They often confuse reality with fantasy. For example, they might ask if the plane flying overhead is going to bomb your house. Don’t reassure them that everything is going to be fine and that nothing will happen. This may not be true. Instead, reassure them that you, their parent, are doing everything in your power to make it safe for them.

Give children chances to express their feelings by talking, drawing, writing or through creative expressions like dance. These are opportunities to teach values and faith. Not only can you talk about a Christian response, but discuss the hope we have in Christ. His promise is that when we can call on Him in times of trouble, He will help us. He can give us supernatural peace and comfort.

Teens usually form their own opinions about news events. Help them think critically. Should we turn the other cheek like Jesus tells us in Matthew, or do we stand up to giants like David did with Goliath? Go through scriptures and help them apply the Bible to their everyday lives. Speak of the bad actions of people, not bad people.

In general, limit the exposure all children and teens have to images of violence and aggression. The research is clear that exposure to violence creates a fearful perception of the world, and increases aggression and anxiety. And exposure is traumatizing.

Most important, pray with and for your children. Remind them that God is in control and nothing happens away from His watchful eye.

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