Helping Children Cope with Crisis
Nannies – one of the most amazing things about your chosen profession is your direct ability to impact children. You have a front and center seat to shaping little minds and little lives. As children grow with consistency, love, direction, boundaries and encouragement they respond and become well-adjusted adults. However, when life is out of control for them, you also bear a great burden in helping them cope with the crisis. As much as we try to insulate our children for as long as possible, eventually real life sneaks in. Ass the adults in each child’s world, we have the opportunity to help them frame the negatives in life in healthy, positive ways.
First and foremost, when your nanny children start asking the big, tough questions – find out how mom and dad want you to handle the big issues. There are some parents that might want to explain age appropriate details and help the child think through issues. There might be some parents that want to answer partial questions but perhaps avoid other parts of the conversation until they are a little older. There might be other parents that want to avoid the big discussions altogether for as long as possible. As a parent, I have been in all three of those places at different times. So, find out from mom and dad how they would like you to address those big question situations. Respect their wishes.
It is just as important that you have worked through your own thoughts and feelings on an issue. It is hard to help a child cope with something big when you are struggling to come to grips with it yourself. As we watch hundreds of families being displaced in Texas and losing their homes, make sure you have conquered your own emotions. You cannot adequately lead a child and teach them how to navigate their own questions if you have not properly gotten your own emotions and opinions under control. Children will mimic your responses. When you are able to look at a crisis event and respond calmly, thoughtfully and appropriately, then you model how that child should respond. If you are emotional, crying and scared, then you will model behavior that can cause a child to feel unsettled. When you are under control then a child instantly feels safe and that no matter what is going on, Mom or Dad or Nanny is in charge and everything is okay.
Look for ways to help them find the positives in every situation. As we watch current news regarding the flooding from Hurricane Harvey, we cannot avoid the misplaced people and lost houses. We can make sure to point out the amazing people that have rushed in to help. We can talk about how to be a good friend to others, how to look for ways to care for our fellow humans and how to show care and concern for others in need.
Our precious children need to know that when everything is out of control, they are surrounded by adults that can handle it. When we can assure them that they are loved and cared for and protected they can learn to adapt and adjust and build resiliency.