Tips for guiding kids during anxious times
I remember when our oldest son walked for the first time. We coaxed and clapped, and when he took that first step, we cheered like he had climbed Mt. Everest! The next day, I certainly didn’t expect him to run a 5K race – that would have been completely unreasonable. As this crazy world swirls around us, expecting our kids to understand and remain unaffected by it is as crazy as expecting my new walker to run. The unrest and uncertainty we’re experiencing has an effect on our children, too, so here are some things to help us parent during these crazy days.
Parents protect their children. As stories of injustice and violence and division emerge, protect them from news and conversation not meant for little ears.
Much of what is happening in our world is contrary to the Gospel, so instead of throwing up our hands in total dismay, we can use the craziness to teach the truth and shine Christ’s light into the darkness and unrest. There is peace, hope and promise in God’s word. If you have a child worried about the way someone is acting or being treated, go to chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel and read the Beatitudes and talk about what Jesus was trying to tell us. We need to focus less on what the world is doing and focus more on what God is asking us to do.
Living through a pandemic has affected us all deeply and differently. Ask your kids often what they think about it all. Talk about their worries or their fears, and give them permission to feel those feelings but follow it up with stories of the strength of the mighty God who loves them and created them. Read the story of Daniel or the Fiery Furnace or Exodus, and talk about God’s power as he saved his people. Make sure your kids understand how much God loves and protects his children.
Be mindful of routines and consistency at home because they are the antidote to unrest.
Notice and mention the positive things happening around us. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the negative if that’s all we focus on. Where are we seeing love and kindness and goodness, and what are we doing to create it?
Remind your kids that people are good, God is great, masks are temporary and you can see people smile with their eyes even when you can’t see their whole face.
Finally, don’t forget the two Ps. Every single day, be sure to play together because laughter is so good for the spirit. And pray. Pray for peace, pray for those who struggle and pray for those who lead us.
Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic school teacher, speaker, writer and founder of Joyful Words Ministries. Sheri blogs at www.joyfulwords.org.