01 Apr March 2022 Newsletter
Hello from Unravel! In the past few months, we shared a practical formula for resilient happiness with you, which hopefully triggered some action towards a happier you.
In the past few weeks, with all the breath-taking blossoming trees all around, increasing sunshine, extending daylight, and growing opportunities to enjoy life, we can re-focus back onto how to support our children and young people to connect with their resilient happiness.
Children are much more resilient than we’ll ever think they are. Their brains often successfully find intricate and effective ways of dealing with any challenge without even anyone knowing about it, most of the time it also includes themselves. The “Surviving mode” of the brain is designed to find solutions no matter what, what its not as good at is recognising and praising itself for doing a good job. This part of the healthy processing is up to the “thriving mode” of the brain and often takes place with the guidance of a trusted significant person or someone who is inspiring in some way and serves as a role model. You can be that beacon in any child’s life, to help them feel worthy, capable, unique and by showing interest and curiosity to what they have been achieving so far trigger their ability to thrive.
In this newsletter we would like to share with you some practical tips on how to promote your child’s resilience especially when it’s to do with some sort of traumatic events which seem to be an inseparable part of our lives at present.
- Monitor your own emotions. Stay calm and honest. It is hard not to be emotional when talking about a difficult experience. It is ok to express emotions through the most natural ways like crying or needing a hug. It’s not emotions that you need to control but the ways you are able to express and communicate them to yourself and others. Reflect and share your experience with your child, model a healthy relationship with emotions.
- Talk about it – in an age-appropriate way. With young children, determine whether your child is likely to hear about the incident. If they are, it’s much better for them to hear about it from you rather than an older sibling or someone on the school bus. If you have children of different ages, it’s best to talk with them separately so you can communicate in an age-appropriate way to each of them. Mainly, ask questions, listen carefully and don’t over-share.
- Answer the big questions. Most children are concerned with how the tragedy affects them. They wonder if they’re safe. Older children wonder why someone would do something so awful. Answer these big questions.
- Am I safe? That’s the first and most important question young children need answered, even if they don’t ask the question that clearly. It’s important to let children know that the incident is over if relevant. They are the safest they can be and surrounded by many adults in their lives who will keep them safe. You might ask younger children to name people who will help keep them safe: mum, dad, grandparents, trusted neighbours. At school, it might be the teacher or teaching assistant, people they know well and trust. Knowing that they are safe is probably all a younger child wants to know or needs to know.
- Why do people do these things? Why do people hurt others? Those are the very hard questions that older children and teens may ask. It’s OK to tell your child you don’t have the answers. People do bad things sometimes; sometimes we never know why and there are no reasons or explanations. Let your child discuss how he or she feels. Be available and open to talk through these things. Remind children it’s always OK to talk to their teacher or a trusted adult if they feel unsafe.
- Don’t be surprised by anger. Children may feel a range of emotions from fear to anger. Older teens may talk about how things could have gone differently. Help them to explore it, ask open and curious questions, even when you don’t agree with their answers, the idea here is to help them release any tension and being able to express what might have been playing on their mind in a cyclic way for a long time, causing discomfort and worry. It’s healthy to let adolescents express their feelings in an open discussion about thoughts and feelings.
- Limit exposure to media. With today’s 24/7 news outlets, showing emotionally triggering and inducing photos and video, children are exposed to too much and their brains are not able to cope with all the flood of that information. Younger children should not be exposed to these reports, and it’s best to limit older children’s exposure to the continual coverage.
- Take comfort in family rituals and routines. Stick with your usual routine to maintain the structure that gives children confidence and security. Quality interactions with your children are essential for your positive healthy relationships and your family culture.
- Remember you’re the expert on your child. Every child responds differently to stressful events. Some children are more anxious and may need more reassurance. Others may not be as concerned. Answer your children’s questions and watch their reactions. You’ll know best how to meet their needs.
- There is no perfect way to discuss traumatic events with a child. These are tough issues for every parent to discuss. There’s no right way to do it. Do it the way that’s comfortable for you and your child. Don’t over-explain. Be open and tell your children they can always talk with you about their fears or concerns. Watch their behaviour, any drastic changes are a signal of distress and need for connection and support.
- Seek out professional help when you observe your child behaving in an unusual way and it exacerbates with time and your attempts don’t seem to produce any lasting positive results.
Remember, you are the experts and one of the strong traits of being an expert is learning and improving your practice continuously!
Please let us know if there’s anything you would like to share after reading this month’s newsletter, your ideas and views are very important for us.
Happy spring from Unravel.