How To Help A Child Cope With Worry
It’s easy to forget that children worry!
Humans are inquisitive by nature. Our first questioning of the world begins before we are born. Babies, in the womb, are curious about sounds and will move towards them. They learn to react based on the sounds they hear and the emotions of the mother. Once a child is born the questions become more complicated and they depend on parents to answer them.
As a parent, we prefer simple yes and no questions. Everyone likes to live in a world of black and white. We want to make sense out of our reality. It’s easy to forget that plaguing our life and our children’s life is a world with answers that are the color gray.
It’s normal for a parent to stress or worry about their children.We worry that are children are safe, happy or provided for. Parent’s will even invent something to worry about if they can’t find anything. Parent’s generally forget that our children can worry about us. Children can worry that parents are happy, safe and won’t leave.
Last month before my wife’s surgery, we did everything to make sure Xander felt comfortable and understood that his mother was fine. It was important that we prepared him and let him know that she was going to the hospital and wouldn’t play with him as much for a few days. I maintained a positive role in his life and made sure he felt comfortable and safe. My wife and I both made sure he interacted with his mother as much as possible while allowing her to recuperate.
It’s easy for me to forget that my three-year-old son can worry about me and my wife as much as we worry about him. As a parent, I tell myself each day that everything is okay. I want my son to grow up with reassurance and the feeling of safety. Last week, I went to the emergency room in pain and they diagnosed me with kidney stones. I had minor surgery earlier this week for them. The doctor gave me pain management until the surgery and for after the surgery.
Being a stay-at-home dad I have the benefit of being able to watch my son . The “unplanned” medical procedure has changed some of our normal routines. The doctor recommended someone to help watch Xander because of the pain management (kidney stones are painful). Luckily, we have family that has stepped in and taken over the daily routine of watching my son. In my three-year-old son’s eyes, the events are earth shattering, all he has ever known is for me to watch him and now am I not.
Xander is now coping with both parents having had a surgery within two months. It concerns my son that our family is helping out. My son has distanced himself and become increasingly agitated with me. I have tried talking to him but he has refused to tell me what is bothering him (I have a good idea though).
The dog told me not to stress!
1. Understanding – Don’t let the age of a child become a detriment to understanding that children have worries and stress. My son is only three-years-old and he occasionally has nightmares. Adults can easily get in the mind-set that children have nothing to bother them. As adults we need to remember that children are continually learning about the world outside their home. They are starting to realize that things change constantly.
2. Acknowledgement – Many things children worry about may seem silly to adults but it’s not silly to them. Parents need to discover through asking questions about what is bothering their child. We need to take their feeling seriously and realize they have legitimate stress. I know that my son worries about my absence and I have reassured him many times it is only temporary.
3. Coping – One of the best ways to help a young child cope with worry and stress is by being a good role model. Children learn how to deal with everyday situations based upon your reactions. I have tried to make sure Xander knows that I wasn’t worried about the surgery and life would return to normal shortly.
4. Routines- Children thrive on structure and routines. Keeping as much routine as possible for a child will help reduce anxiety. My son’s “daily” routine has changed over the last weeks. I have been able to keep the nighttime routine the same. I read him stories in his bed, sing him a song and tuck him in every night.
As a father I don’t want to overly shelter my son but I don’t want him to grow up to fast either. I have been a little sad having my son away from me the last few weeks but I know that it has been a good thing too. The events have helped my son to learn about coping with worry and stress. It is helping him to learn that life is about change and nothing will stay the same forever.
Parenting is all about helping our children on their road to adulthood. I try to always remember my job is to someday let him go out in the world without me. I know until that day comes I will continue to hold him close and tight and never let him forget I love him.
It’s easy to forget how complicated the world is to our children. What do you do if your child asks if everything is okay (and it’s not)? Do you feel that your children ever worry about you? Have you tried teaching your children ways to cope with worry and stress? Tell me in the comments!
You can read my last post here: Do You Have A Toddler or Celebrity? If you like this post you can follow me on my facebook fan page, Dadblunders.
, kidney stones