We are all on edge today and it’s normal that the events of the last couple of weeks are unsettling to everyone especially children and adolescents. Remember your daughter is watching you and seeing how you are reacting to the bombings in Austin, they will sense fear and anxiety in the people around them. We know anxiety is contagious and can turn into a full blown anxiety/panic attack without much warning. Below are a few suggestions that will help you navigate these challenging times.
- Keep normal routines, if your daughter needs a mental health day then make sure she is not sitting at home or on social media obsessing about what’s happening.
- Make time to talk, start the conversation by asking them what they know and clarify as needed. Be sure you provide age appropriate information and use age appropriate language. Listen very carefully to what they are saying to help you understand their perspective on the situation,
- Validate their feeling, let them know you completely understand how they could be feeling the way they are,
- Share, in an age appropriate way, how you feel. Let them know you don’t understand why these things happen, that sometimes people do bad things to hurt others,
- Reassure your daughter that the family, the school, neighborhood and city are all working together to keep them safe. Give examples of things the school does as part of the school routine and things you do at home.
- Limit media exposure to the events.
During times of hyper vigilance or high stress our brain goes in to the fight, flight, freeze or faint mode. When this happens we are more irritable, reactive, impatient, and less open to connecting with others so part of your job as a parent is to calm the brain down, so you can be available to your daughter.
A simple yet effective way to do this is with deep breathing. When you feel yourself feeling anxious try this breathing technique. Visualize a square, beginning across the top, breath in for a count of four, visualize the side of the square going down and hold for a count of four, visualize the bottom release for a count of four then visualize going up the side of the square and hold for a count of four. Repeat six times. Do this as many times a day as you need it. You can never do too much deep breathing to keep yourself calm and open to your daughter.
Kappie Bliss, M.ED Parent Coach