There are times when children have to face overwhelming social, psychological, and academic challenges, and they might not always come out victorious. As parents, it can be upsetting seeing your child suffer. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways we can provide support and comfort to a distressed child. Let’s review a couple of tips for doing so below.
Participating in Play
As children grow, they start to realize that they need less help, and are effectively becoming more independent. They may prefer to spend time with their friends, rather than with their siblings or parents. However, that doesn’t mean that family relations should be ignored.
Playing video games with your children is one excellent way to show them that we understand their interests and strengthen family bonds. Studies have also shown the multiple therapeutic benefits of video games, like preventing anxiety and fostering resilience. With a strengthened bond through play, it can be easier for your child to feel supported and cared for. They can also feel closer to you, and thus be more likely to come to you when they need help or comfort.
Being a Stabilizing Force
Children are often the least prepared members of a family when it comes to coping with a traumatic event. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one or a car accident, there’s very little they can do on their own to feel better.
Parents can do a lot for their children’s comfort simply by not communicating a sense of danger or despair, whether through facial expressions or words. Children rely on you to be their stabilizing force, and when you panic, it can make the experience worse for them. Be sure to provide them with distractions, such as phone games or other activities. This will prevent them from mentally revisiting the event, which could increase the chances of emotional trauma.
Comforting a Child in Regression
We can all feel a bit overwhelmed by stressful events, like moving to another city or losing a job. As adults, we have a variety of coping strategies at our disposal, like analyzing our situation or talking to someone. In the case of children though, the situation is quite different.
When the lockdowns hit, children were forced to stop seeing their friends, and had to study under drastically different circumstances. As a result, some children ended up showing signs of child regression, like tantrums and bathroom accidents. Giving your child some additional attention like more frequent play sessions, and expressing your affection more clearly, should help them feel comforted and accepted.
Connecting with a Social Worker
There are multiple reasons why a child could start showing signs of emotional discomfort, but not all of them may be evident. A child could feel sad because they don’t have the same toys as their friends, or perceive themselves as physically or culturally different from the rest. In this case it is best to seek professional help. Qualified social workers at schools and hospitals can make children feel safe and comfortable, but they also assess their environment to help parents find the cause of their distress. They are trained in human behavior under different contexts, and thus can use their experience to detect underlying issues while following a strict code of ethics.
It may not be possible to shield our children from all harm, but we can be present for them every time they feel worried, sad, or confused. Children may not have the experience and emotional development we have, so it’s up to parents and guardians to make them feel safe, and loved. As long as we have the right tools at our hands, there are no children we cannot comfort.
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Written by Alicia Marks