I prayed for you today. When we got the message that Spring Break would be extended another week, I felt a bittersweetness in my heart because none of us want this, but I will enjoy an extra week with my two girls. However, I know for many of you, this may mean a week of scrambling for childcare or taking time off that you don't really have from workplaces also trying to figure out how to function when everything is changing so rapidly. Some of you may be experiencing a great amount of stress because your work depends on travel, social gatherings, or customers who aren't willing to leave their houses to come walk through your doors. With a husband who works in sports, I understand the fear of uncertainty.
But the title of this is "Talking to Your Kids" because if your child is of speaking age, you are not only seeking answers to your questions, you're also going to spend this week fielding theirs. Even my almost three year old asked me why Target was out of toilet paper and why the lady in front of us was buying so much water. What do we say? How much is too much? How little is too little? How much can they handle? This I know, if we as parents don't host these conversations, kids will find a source of information somewhere. I love and loathe the curiosity of children because of where it takes them, and in my experience, it rarely takes a break, This Issue of Eagle Counseling Newsletter seeks to outline some general guidelines for navigating tough conversations in addition to a list of helpful resources.
Things to Remember in Your Conversations
1. Now's the time to tap into your personal support network as a parent (remotely of course), so you can be strong for your kids. I've been praying and seeking God's guidance and texting with friends and family about my fears, so that I can take a deep breath and respond calmly and confidently to my kids. Praying, journaling my fears, and talking to my husband allows me some healthy outlets. If you are not currently connected to a church, (shameless plug) you can connect into Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Youtube (click here) and watch the services live on Sunday at 11:00 am or Wednesday at 7:00 pm (in your PJs on the couch). It may give some hope to your whole family.
2. God is a big God. He hears you. He sees you. He knows you and your fears, and He promises to be faithful.
3. Your kids are are resilient. You are resilient. Don't underestimate the strength of your family, your community, and God.
4. Your kids need you to be honest, but they need you to communicate safety and security. It's okay if you are scared. It's okay if you don't have all the answers. Give yourself some grace. and allow yourself to have some transparency with your kids. However, keep in mind, if you stay calm, they will stay calm.
5. Your kids need you to filter information. For kids younger than middle school age, watching the news may be too much for them. For middle school and high school students, they probably need to watch and process with you if they are watching.
6. Unrestricted internet access leads to overexposure. With extra down time, your kids need more internet boundaries because they are probably being exposed to a lot of scary information. For example: even before COVID-19, many of my middle school students read news articles daily or found memes that lead to alarming stories they brought to class as prayer requests. You may never hear about them at home because they read or saw it, reacted to it, talked about it with their friends, and absorbed fear/uncertainty/anxiety all before they thought to mention that they were worried.
7. Your kids live in an anxious generation. They do not yet have the adult perspective that says, "We've been through worse; we will prevail." For many of them, this is the scariest thing they've faced because they are the oldest they've ever been, and therefore, they are understanding and processing more than they ever have. They need you to demonstrate the fortitude of your generation and previous generations. They will learn grit from you.
8. You are your kid's best resource for information and strength.
I hope those guidelines give you some encouragement in these trying times, and please know that your families are in my prayers not only because of COVID-19, but also because of all the other life junk that may be happening too. I hope these weeks of social distancing bring you closer to the people you love the most and rest assured that God is really looking forward to hearing from you.
- Michelle Dwyer
Child Mind Institute
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
PBS: Includes video resources for younger kids
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains--
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip--
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you--
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm--
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
This issue of Eagle Counseling Newsletter seeks to shed light on this growing epidemic of anxiety, and how it’s affecting our kids at different ages. First, let’s define stress and anxiety because they are two different, but related things. One great definition comes from Stress vs. Anxiety – Knowing the Difference Is Critical to Your Health by Franzi Ross. Ross explains that stress is your reaction to an outside stressor like when you have a deadline approaching at work or you face traffic on your commute. Stress usually dissolves when the situation is over. “Anxiety is a person’s specific reaction to stress; its origin is internal. Anxiety is typically characterized by a ‘persistent feeling of apprehension or dread’ in situations that are not actually threatening” (Ross). What does this look like for our kids? At every age, there are certain stressors that our children experience, and they grow and mature by learning to work through those obstacles. When our children experience anxiety however, we need to approach it differently than stress because it doesn’t end when the stressor is gone. We hope the resources in this issue of ECN help guide you through the mess that is anxiety. - MD
Stress vs. Anxiety – Knowing the Difference
Gary Prindiville is the school counselor and a middle school theology teacher at Prince of Peace Christian School and Early Learning Center in Carrollton, TX. Visit the Contact page for more information.
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