How to help children cope when the world feels unsafe.

Today, Thursday the 24th of February 2022 is a day that will go down in the History books. It is a scary day and there is a lot of uncertainty ahead. I don’t know how many people around the world feel it yet but I fear that we are about to see something far worse than Covid being unleashed on the world. I feel for the children who are going to grow under this cloud.

I don’t think there is something harder for a parent than being faced with the possibility of not being able to keep their children safe. There is so much going on and threats to stability are sprouting everywhere, there is the lingering pandemic, the economic situation is dire, budgets of families are overstretched and many worry about meeting basic needs, and now war is back in Europe in a chilling manner.

Children thrive with stability and while I did not face war in my childhood I faced a lot of instability. I am now a mother of five and it has and still is an ongoing work finding ways to provide the safest environment for my children to ensure they do not share some of the damage I did. Here are little things you can do to help your children cope when the world might start to feel unsafe around them:

-Remember that you as a parent are their rock, remind them you will do whatever is in your might to keep them safe. I remind of my children everyday that no matter what they come first and there is nothing we would not do to keep them safe.

-Create routines they can hold on to. Routines are little moments that help kids feel grounded. For instance in our home every night I send bad dreams away from my children and wish them good dreams, I also “sprinkle” “Mommy magic’ by their window to keep them safe. It was a little something that started when they were very little but even as they are growing it is a ritual that keeps them feeling safe and comforted at bedtime. This is something that can be done anywhere, so long as you are together.

-Be honest in their own measure. Children will have questions. It is important to answer with measured answers appropriate to their age group. They will hear about war for instance and it is helpful to show them where this is happening and listen to what their thoughts are. Our children will be the next generation to bring back peace to this world so it is important they are allowed to express their feelings. Children are not fond of violence and conflict, it matters that they can word this and hold on to their hope for a better tomorrow.

-Make a plan now of what will make you feel safe in case of conflict coming to your home. It might be you are close to this or it will come to where you live. We can only hope at this stage that some miracle will happen but we do not know. What we know is that children are sponges and if you have an idea of what to do should your home become unsafe you will feel better able to be calm and level headed. It is always better to be prepared.

-Hug and hold each other. Hold your babies, kiss them goodnight and do all you can to engage your parasympathetic nervous system. This is the hardest thing to do in times of uncertainties but the ability to create a safe space even momentarily will have beneficial repercussions on yourself and your children’s wellbeing now and in the future.

I am so terribly sad to be thinking that tonight people are facing the uncertainty and the horror of war. I do hope something can be done to bring back peace for this generation, this is not the path our world should be on and it is heartbreaking.

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