Healthier Me Today wants to help you maintain a normal household during these difficult times! The current Russian invasion of Ukraine has left us all a little shell-shocked and doubtful of the future. As parents, we fear the effect it may have on our children. Understand that feeling anxious or stressed is a natural response to the unnecessary violence exposed to. While we may be uncertain of what may come or how the war might affect the world, our job as parents is to ensure our children feel safe and secure. The best advice is to keep to your usual household practices as much as possible.
House Rules For a Normal Household
Every family is unique in their day to day schedules. We each have our own rules and values, and keeping a sense of normality in the home during this uncertain time is not always easy, but we have a few tips on how to make our children more comfortable.
- Ensure your child takes the time to play and have fun.
- Establish routines as they will encourage stability and structure.
- Maintain set times for meals, playtime, family time and for sleeping.
Managing Media Exposure
Our children are usually more aware of what is going on around them than we think. Be it from playground chatter, unlimited access to social media, and the uncensored information on television, our children by now will know about the plight of the Ukrainian people. While it is impossible to be around our children 24 hours a day and monitor everything they see or hear, we suggest you try the following to keep some sense of control.
- Limit your child’s news and social media exposure as much as you can.
- Don’t let your child be on social media or watch the news before bedtime.
- Use the parental controls on all computers, tv’s and cellphones to ensure your child is not disturbed by relentless war footage.
- Try to watch all news and media coverage of the war with your child.
- This way, you can answer their questions straight away and not let them worry in doubt.
- Encourage your children to read the newspaper as it has a lot less graphic and violent images than television.
Honesty and Trust For Establishing a Normal Household
As primary caregivers, our children look to us for guidance and reassurance. If you are open and honest, it will give your children a firm sense of security and encourage them to do the same.
- Always keep your promises. This will build your child’s trust in you and know they can come to you in any situation.
- Being consistent and following through on a promise will teach your children about responsibility.
- Don’t be afraid if you do not know the answers to the questions.
- Never jeopardize your child’s trust by lying to them or making something up.
- Your child may be experiencing fear for the safety of their family and themselves. Show them on a map where the conflict is playing out and place the crisis in context.
Playing a Major Role
We cannot force our children to recover or forget about the information they have heard or gruesome images that they have seen. We can, however, play a significant role in their healing process.
- Spend quality time together face to face with no distractions.
- Switch off the tv, PlayStations and phones and focus on each other.
- Create a safe environment where your child feels comfortable talking to you about their emotions and asking questions.
- Ask your children often if they have anything on their minds or any questions for you.
- Learn what they have been exposed to.
- Do not force your child to talk about the war, as this could leave them feeling even more distressed.
- Ensure you communicate in an age-appropriate way as younger children will have different coping skills compared to teens.
- Older children will feel more comfortable knowing facts and information.
- Validate their fears even if they seem irrelevant to you.
- Allow your child to feel upset, angry or scared and let me know they are not alone in those feelings.
- Depending on their age and maturity, we may have to censor our emotions but always try to be as honest as possible.
Children are resilient and seem to bounce back after a traumatic event faster than adults. Keeping your usual family routine will bring a sense of normality in the chaos and give your children a haven where they can be themselves and not feel scared or alone. Use this time to start spending more quality time with your children. Plan outside family activities like a picnic or a soccer game. In times like these, we realize the fragility of life and how important family and a support system is.