Tag Archive | parenting

Hurricanes, Trauma, and Helping Kids

Before writing this post, I checked to see where Irma is now. I heard this is the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic. It will soon be hitting several islands. This while just beginning the rebuilding after Harvey.

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We already have thousands of people traumatized by the loss of their homes, their jobs, and in some cases family members. Not the least of these is children, children ripped from their homes and schools in little boats with strangers. Children waking up to a sea of water where their playground use to be. Hopefully they had time to bring their favorite toy, the one they sleep with. They don’t understand, and they are afraid. They may not show it, but their parents are traumatized too. Children know when their parents are scared.

What can be done?                                                                                                                  
Authorities say it may be months or longer before the families can get back in their homes, so people need emotional help.
I hope there will be counselors, but certainly not enough for everyone who needs it. Parents, you can help.

Take care of your own trauma                                                                                      
This involves finding a place to live and providing as much normalcy as possible.        
Talk about your emotions.                                                                                                                  
Let yourself feel them.                                                                                                              
Recognize the anger.                                                                                                                    
Then release it. (See the previous post on Anger, What Do I Do About It?)                            
If you don’t release it, it will make it harder on you and your family.                                
This is a natural disaster.
Maybe there were some things authorities could have done better, but that is hindsight. It can’t be changed.                                              
Whatever you do, don’t take it out on your children.

How to Help Your Children                                                
First reassure them you love them.                                                                                            
Reassure them they will be taken care of.                                                                                  
Allow them to regress for a time.                                                                                                    
They may need to return to the coping mechanisms they used at a younger age.          
That is normal for a while.                                                                                                            
Try to limit exposure to TV to keep them from being re-traumatized.                                      
If they are old enough to understand, tell them what happened at a level they can grasp.
Allow trauma-related play, but supervise to keep it from getting out of hand.                    
As much as time allows, play with them.                                                                                        
Let them guide the play. If it gets out of hand, you can stop it.

Whether you are a victim or a helper, take care of yourself or you won’t be able to help others. 

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Parenting: Law vs. Grace. Which is Right?

For the most part, our sense of morality comes from our religion, or you could say our belief system. In general, for the western civilization the historical source for morality comes from the law given to Moses by God and the philosophy of grace, which comes from Jesus in the New Testament.

Christianity teaches grace. No other religion does that. Yet, even Christians need to obey the law. So how do you decide when to punish your child and when to allow grace?

Trying to develop a parenting strategy based on those two concepts can lead to confusion. Remember the good law protects us. So teach your children to stay away from fire and not cross the street alone to protect them. If they disobey, make the consequences severe enough to prevent any re-occurrence. Along with consequences give them love and teaching about the dangers of what they did. In those situations, law trumps grace.

On the other hand, children disobey by actions that don’t cause immediate harm, such as back talk, unkindness to a friend, or refusal to clean their rooms. In that kind of situation, don’t miss an occasional opportunity to show grace.

You can say something like this, “You have disobeyed me by your back talk. The way you talked to me showed disrespect. I should punish you, but this time I won’t. I will give you grace. Grace is a gift we don’t deserve. Even though you deserve to be in time out, I will give you love instead. Jesus does that. He took the punishment we deserve and gave us love and forgiveness. Next time it happens, you will go to time out. This time I am helping you understand more about Jesus.”

How to Recognize Depression in Children

Children and teens can become depressed. Divorce, learning problems, family stress, and physical or sexual abuse, and other issues, can cause depression in youth. Clinical depression differs from the third stage of grief as put forth by Elisabeth Kubler Ross in her book On Death and Dying. A depressed person of any age needs professional help. Ignoring depression can be deadly. Is that clear? Deadly.

Depression Is  Like Watching the World Go By without You

Depression Is Like Watching the World Go By without You

If you have or know of a child or teen who is experiencing a number of the symptoms listed below, contact a doctor or counselor or both.

1. Sadness that lasts for several weeks.

2. Complaints of physical illness or aches and pains that seems to have no physical causes.

3. Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities.

4. Unable to sleep or sleeping all the time.

5. Decreased activity level or increased activity level, seemingly to avoid thinking.

6. Change in eating patterns leading to weight loss or gain.

7. Boredom, listlessness, or sudden onset of poor concentration.

8. Drop in grades or increase in school absences.

9. Wide mood swings.

10. Low self-esteem.

11. Frequent discussions of suicide.

12. Use of alcohol or drugs.

13. Aggression, temper tantrums, or anti-social behavior.

14. Excessive crying.

15. Withdrawal.

16. Strong feelings of guilt.

Childhood and teen depression is a serious problem. Please help others by sharing any experiences you have had with depression, whether your own or that of someone you know. Please don’t break any confidentiality with someone you know.

List taken from Growing Seasons: Helping Children Heal from Divorce and Other Losses, published by Living Free Ministries. http://store.livingfree.org/Growing-Seasons-Coordinators-Guide_p_162.html