The past two years’ events combined with the current war violence have taken a toll on all of us. With a global pandemic, violent crimes, terrorist attacks, various natural disasters have left us feeling somewhat anxious and insecure. For our children, these events have been overwhelmingly stressful. Our kids have to come to terms with acts of violence. It can leave them vulnerable and feeling helpless. Even without being directly affected by such events, the continuous graphic images shown on every news channel, especially social media, your child can quickly become traumatised.
Suppose you feel your child is showing upsetting symptoms of traumatic stress. In that case, the following are a few tips to help rebuild their sense of security and move on healthily after any devastating or violent event.
Noticing the Signs and Symptoms of Stress in Your Children
As every child is different, their reactions will be too violent events and trauma. Stress is an entirely natural response after a disaster or traumatic event, no matter your age. The most appropriate way to know if your child is struggling is through noticeable changes in their behaviour. Keep an eye out for the following:
For Younger Children
- With a change in attitude, stressed children tend to lash out or become withdrawn.
- Their eating habits may change, loss of appetite is a sure sign of stress.
- Sleeping patterns are also a sure sign, be aware if they start sleeping a lot more than usual or start having nightmares.
- Struggling at school and not interested in homework or after school activities.
- Start complaining about physical ailments such as headaches and stomach aches.
- Suddenly becoming fearful of everything even if it is unfounded.
- If they start to avoid topics or discussions regarding war violence.
- Teens tend to look for crutches and might start abusing alcohol, drugs or cigarettes.
- Become aggressive or disrespectful, especially at the mention of war.
- Isolating themselves is also a sign of guilt or depression.
- Lose interest in their hobbies and sports.
Become Proactive in Regards to War Violence
Our children often take our lead on feeling or processing traumatic events. They look to us for security and reassurance in times of crisis. This war has us as adults feeling displaced and anxious. It is crucial to take steps to cope with your emotions and thoughts before confronting your child.
By being proactive in your mental health and emotions and getting necessary help when needed, you will be more understanding and calm when discussing the subject with your kids. This will also show our children that feeling stressed or overwhelmed is nothing to be ashamed about but a completely normal response to the violence of war. Remember the following:
- Every child will react differently.
- Their feelings will come and go the more they are exposed to war violence.
- There is no right or wrong response. Let them feel their own unique emotions.
- Never try to dictate how your child should be feeling or acting.
- Teach your children that being honest about their feelings will allow them to understand them better.
- Teenagers often have reservations about opening up to their parents, so encourage them to talk to friends or teachers.
- Try to discourage your child from becoming obsessed with the conflict they have seen.
- Monitor their social media and who and which pages they are following.
- Reading, drawing, playing games or watching a movie together will take your child’s mind off the war violence.
- Encourage relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing, and for older children, meditation or yoga are great for de-stressing.
Build Trust and Security – War Violence Doesn’t Need To Rule You
The traumatic events that are currently occurring could shape the way your child sees the world. Your once happy and carefree child could now find the world a scary and unsafe place to be. Hug them as often as possible and let them know you are there to protect them from harm. Reassure them the conflict is on the other side of the globe. This will help them feel more secure and safe. Speak about the future and make plans, so they realise that even if it feels like it, the world as they know it is not ending.