Most Stressful Situations for Kids and How to Deal with Them

During highly stressful situations, our coping mechanisms, as well as our parenting skills, might need an improvement or a different approach. While such difficult situations often result in a storm of negative feelings for both parents and children, keep in mind that kids can be affected in a completely different way and might need a different coping recourse. Here is how you can help your children through some of the most difficult situations in life:

Having a new baby in the family

Even though toddlers are known for seeing the arrival of a new baby as an invasion of their territory, older children might react this way as well. Regardless of how excited you may feel, remember that your children’s feelings may not be the same as yours. So, make sure to acknowledge your children’s feelings, discuss their frustrations and make them feel heard and validated. Ensure that there is a good balance of family time and individual time with each parent, and empower your children by asking for their help with the baby’s care, when appropriate.

Moving to a new home or school

No matter what the reason for moving may be, the emotional impact it can have on a child is often quite similar – a new school, a new neighborhood and no friends. This transition can be quite difficult, which is why you should give your children as many coping opportunities as possible. Prepare them as far in advance as you can, build their confidence by letting them make some decisions about the move, such as packing a few boxes of their own items, and create an open space for communication. Before the final move, take a few trips to the new neighborhood to familiarize your children with the area, and possibly meet some new neighbors and friends.

Going through a divorce or separation

Divorce and separation can take a great emotional toll on everyone, especially children, which is why it is important to encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings, and make it clear that this situation is not their fault. It would be a good idea to remain on civil terms with your former partner and maintain your composure, to be a good role model for your children, instead of putting them in the middle of your problems by criticizing each other. If you can’t reach an agreement with your ex spouse, it would be a good idea to hire a reliable family law attorney who will help you resolve the matter quickly and efficiently, while ensuring your kids stay away from the conflict and making their needs and feelings a top priority.

Experiencing financial problems

Financial issues can put a strain on the whole family, as kids easily pick up on cues from their parents, such as general stress and anxiety. Even though your children might not have any understanding of the concept of money, try to explain any changes in the standard of living to them, answer any questions they might have and assure them that they will be taken care of, to ensure there will be no room for misinterpretations and mixed feelings.

Dealing with a difficult illness

One of the toughest situations in life, dealing with a difficult illness is extraordinarily stressful, regardless of whom it may affect. The best course of action during such a hard time would be to reach out to your extended circle of support and try your hardest to maintain a normal everyday routine. Find as many small things that can stay exactly the same, whether it’s family dinner time, a regular school schedule or family game night. Avoid the impulse to overprotect your child, as it only sends the message of fragility, incompetence or doubt about your kid’s ability to get through this stressful situation. 

The death of a loved one

Whether it’s a family member or a friend, the death of a loved one can be one of the hardest things in life to cope with, particularly when it comes to children. To help your child deal with grief, encourage them to talk about their feelings, respond to their emotions with comfort and reassurance, and answer any questions they may have. It would be a good idea to allow them to participate in any rituals, such as funerals and memorials, but explain to them ahead of time what will happen. And most importantly, help your child remember the person by sharing happy memories and activating positive feelings, to facilitate the healing process.

Life is filled with stressful and difficult situations, but as long as you are there to offer love, care, support and stability, you can rest assured that your children will get through these hard times.

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