As a parent, you want to protect your children and keep them from harm in all its forms. Sadly, it’s not possible to shield them from all the ways in which life can throw you a curve ball, and it can be very difficult to see your kids hurt or upset and not have been able to prevent it. It’s not much comfort to know that pain and loss are an inevitable part of life, but accepting that as a fact is an important part of being able to be the best parent you can when trouble does strike.
Illness and injury
All kids get minor illnesses as they’re growing up, and normally they aren’t too serious. Learning to cope with feeling under the weather is an essential life skill for kids, and showing them how to care for themselves and others when they are ill is good practice for when they get older. Knocks and scrapes are also an inevitable part of growing up, and a kid who doesn’t have a few bruises on their shins is probably suffering more from not getting out and being active than having the odd minor bump. Unfortunately, children do sometimes become more seriously ill, or break arms and legs, and if they do they will need you to be there for them and help them through.
Helping kids cope with illness
The key is to find a balance between expressing your love and concern, and at the same time being positive and cheerful around them. If you are anxious and upset all the time, your child will feel the same way, which won’t help them in their recovery and will make you both miserable. On the other hand, if you act as if nothing important has happened and cheerily ignore their pain in an effort to stop them worrying about it, you run the risk of making them feel unloved instead. It’s not always easy to strike the right balance, but getting as close as you can is the best way to help your child live with their condition and aid their recovery.
Losing your home
You may be facing financial difficulties that mean you have to sell your house or downsize to a cheaper rental property. Or there could be a problem in the family that means you need to move, for example, to look after an elderly parent. In some cases, flooding, structural faults, or fire can make your home unsafe to live in, at least until it’s been repaired. No matter what the cause of your need to live elsewhere, the very act of being taken away from a place they know as their safe and familiar home can be traumatic. The best way to manage these kinds of situations is to talk to your children, at a level that’s appropriate for their age.
How to talk to your kids when you lose your home
Younger kids will need reassurance that their lives won’t be changing in any way other than that they’ll be in a different house. Older children will want to know more about what’s behind the move, and you shouldn’t try and gloss over the situation as they will be able to sense if you’re hiding something. Before you talk to your kids, have a look at some websites or books written by child psychologists that show you the best ways to approach difficult subjects, so you give your kids just the right amount of information. If you’ve suffered fire or flood damage, the sight of the house in that condition can be very upsetting for kids. If you want to save as much as you can, use a specialist fire and water restoration company, who will be able to salvage and restore far more of your possessions than you may have thought. Your kids will be reassured to know that everything is being done to rescue their favourite toys, and you can cheer them up by planning how you’ll decorate their bedroom with them after the renovations are completed.
Losing someone we love is one of the hardest life events to deal with, but you might be surprised at how resilient children can be in the face of death. This is partly to do with the way children develop, as they are largely self-centred when they’re young, learning sympathy and empathy as they get older. Therefore, they can often seem far more upset about breaking a toy they are attached to than when you tell them Granny has died. It’s perfectly normal for them to feel this way, and just goes to show that children are remarkably resilient and adaptable.