Parents must allow their children express their fears, and speak openly with them; From not being afraid of fear to sharing ways you yourself coped with such tensions in the past, here are some helpful tips.
by Ravit Gutman
10.13.15, 00:12 / Israel News
We have once again entered a period of stressful and difficult feelings. Every stabbing pierces freedom of movement and action. Our children, especially adolescent ones, feel a sense of helplessness. They are being robbed of their freedom.
Our cellphones warn us about every new incident, we talk to our colleagues, in line at the supermarket, and with the delivery guy - "So have you heard? Another one."
We calm tensions by interacting with strangers. All Israelis are friends in these times.
But we are also parents. Our parental role only intensifies at these moments.
The wave of targeted attacks have caught children and adolescents off guard. Sirens still echo in their ears occasionally when a motorcycle passes from far away. It's only a motorcycle, we tell them to calm them down. Another painful reminder of Operation Protective Edge.
If during Operative Protective Edge we said that the Iron Dome anti-missile system was the great consolation of the 2000s, what will we tell them today? What might allay their fears? Calm their anxiety? How can we answer their question: What are the chances the next stabbing gets to us?
8 tips to calm children:
1. Do not be afraid of fear
If our children were not worried or afraid, we could think that something is not right. After all, a school test makes their heart beat faster, so a fear of targeted and unexpected attacks definitely makes sense. And therefore we need to tell the child: "It's okay to be afraid, it is natural and logical."
2. There is something to fear
When we tell a child "you have nothing to be afraid of," he or she could feel lonely misunderstood. That feeling in itself may be a cause of concern and anxiety.
3. No promises without foundation
You should avoid promises without a firm foundation, such as "there is no chance it will happen here," can any one of us guarantee that? Or saying "do not worry, it is far from us." If we are wrong and lose credibility, how will the kids learn to trust us?
4. Talk, talk, talk
Everyone has different ways of coping with worries. There are those who do not stop asking questions and it is important for them to listen to the news often and all they want is to understand more and speak more. Our way of coping helps us overcome paralysis. Let them express themselves. Do not shush them.
5. What they don’t know can’t hurt them - really?
We can choose not to expose our children inside the home, but they will be exposed to it outside, from friends, from school and from the omnipresent digital devices. It is better for them to hear of it from us, in a controlled manner.
6. Shared reading or watching of the news
Watching the news together accompanied by explanations transmits that we are all in the same boat. Togetherness is stronger than being alone.
7. Try to get into their shoes
This is important, especially as the youth in this period of their lives are testing their independence, freedom of movement and are concentrated on themselves and their needs. A sense of lack of control and the idea of a surprise targeted attack reduces these.
Teenagers are flooding WhatsApp with statements that express great concern. They are afraid to take their familiar train or bus to their regular activities. Your teenagers need you just as much as your small children do.
They need to hear that it is important to maintain routine, that together it is possible to think about how they can get around safely – by bicycle instead of by bus, a parents’ car pool, alertness, looking up from their cellphone while walking down the street or waiting at the station and other ideas that may help them cope and increase their sense of control of their lives.
Tell them about yourself when you were their age, at the time of terrible attacks: How you dealt with them, what you thought about the situation and what was then necessary for you and helped you to overcome your fears.