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Today's NewsHow To Guide My Child Through War Stressors?

How To Guide My Child Through War Stressors?

We need to learn how we can help our children cope with war! Anxiety is your body’s natural response to the unknown. I am sure we feel a little anxious and fearful as we watch these horrific events play out. Now for our children, these events are undoubtedly terrifying. Here are tips on keeping your childless stressed during this time.

How Are YOU Feeling?

Our children absorb more from us than we realise. This is because they are deeply tuned to our reactions and emotional state. This is why we need to recognise our stress and anxiety regarding the war stressors and deal with it proactively and positively. Also, be aware of how you communicate with others about the conflict.

We are allowed to tell our kids that we are also scared and that this is normal in situations of war or terrorism. This being said, try to not burden or worry your children too much with your emotions. Always wait until you are in a calm and clear state of mind before answering questions about the war. Then, let them know that you are healthily dealing with your feelings.

Is my Child Distressed?

 

While it is only natural for your child to be feeling confused, anxious or even a little upset, the reality of war stressors will affect every child differently. The question is, will my child cope with war?

As younger children struggle to verbalise their feelings, they will start showing behavioural changes if stressed. Be on the lookout for the following: 

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Wetting the Bed
  • Becoming extra needy and clingy
  • Thumb Sucking
  • Baby Talk

Older children will be more open and expressive with their feelings but still watch out for:

  • Speaking about death or fears of death
  • Persistent distressing thoughts
  • Being preoccupied with war
  • Consumed with the news or social media about the conflict 
  • Problems sleeping (too much or too little)

Who Will Be Most Affected?

As every child is different, their reactions and emotions will be unique. Every child needs to feel safe and secure, but some might need a little extra attention:

  • Children of immigrant or refugee families.
  • Children with family members or friends who live in Russia or Ukraine.
  • Children who have a mental illness.
  • Children who have experienced traumatic events.

These children are more susceptible to anxiety and stress, and therefore the topic of war needs to be dealt with more sensitively. Depending on their age or level of trauma they have experienced, we suggest you first make sure that you are aware of their stress levels through recognisable signs or actions they would have shown previously under challenging situations. 

When Should My Child Seek Professional Help?

Children with past trauma in their past or who struggle with mental health issues, it is always a good idea to consult with their doctor before bringing up such sensitive subjects as war. While talking to your children openly and honestly, you will tell if there are signs of stress and how they are coping. For example, suppose your child seems to be struggling to cope with images or information they have heard. In that case, it is recommended to seek professional help by first making an appointment with your child’s paediatrician. 

The doctor will be able to assess your child and will, if necessary, make the appropriate referrals to seek further medical support either with a mental health professional or a social worker.

The Matter at Hand

You will be the first to know if there are any changes in their behaviour or attitude that is out of the ordinary. For example, if they suddenly become quiet or withdrawn, make the time to sit with them one on one in a comfortable setting and try to discuss the matter at hand. From there, you will know how affected they have been by war and correctly assess how to move forward. Albeit seeking medical advice or a mental health professional, the stress in children should never be ignored. Helping your child cope with war stressors is essential for their mental health.

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