The Christmas tree has been packed away (hallelujah. Sorry, leftover Grinchmas here), fun in the sun has been had. Or sweating half your body weight away, same same. Lazy mornings, relaxed lunches, bedtime routines pushed out a little. Ahhhhh holidays. You so pretty. But then as quickly as it started, suddenly you’re staring down the barrel of routine again. Early morning wake ups, rallying the troops with military precision, organising, preparing…… where’s the wine? What do you mean it’s only 9am??
For some, school is a big part of this equation. It’s like going into labour, head down, intense for 10 weeks, then you breathe for 2 weeks. Rinse and repeat. Happy 2015! For others, it will be their first foray into the wonderful world of having to get your kid to school every.freaking.day. I’ll be one of the newbies, madly kissing my cherub goodbye and spit polishing shoes (probably not. But you get my drift).
…… is a double-decker-skyscraper-for- Cinderella-and-Belle-and-Ariel-and-some-wigs-and-a-Spiderman web-shooter-and -a new-Elsa-doll-and-a-Frozen-book-and-a-swimming-pool-and-a-new-castle-for-my-other-parents-Lauren-and-Harold…..
I think it’s safe to say we’re all in a bit of shock right now. What has gone on in Sydney is heavy. I mean, there’s lots of heavy stuff going on all over the world, but something so brazen, so full on, happening right here. Right now. I was only in Sydney a couple of short months ago, wandering through those same places with my little ladies. It doesn’t seem real.
As with anything of this magnitude, it is alllllll over the media. On every platform. Some of us cope ok with this, in fact we relish the fact we can keep up in such an immediate manner. For others, it can be a bit much. As adults, we tend to be able to switch off for the most part, but what about children who might have seen something on TV? Or heard something on the radio? Little ones process things in a much different manner to us, they’re still in that black and white, concrete stage of understanding the world.
Of course we all know the most important thing to do for young ones is to try and minimise attention to traumatic events. Try to keep the TV off, or have them occupied in other activities. But in this technological day and age, sometimes it’s not always possible. TV’s on in the windows, other children seeing things and talking. So what can we do to manage any fears and trauma that may arise from exposure to such events?
Talk as openly as age appropriate. Allow children to get their fears out. No need for details but something as simple as ‘yes something pretty bad has happened, but the Police have been right onto it and are there to protect us’
Normalise all feelings. Yes, it’s ok to be concerned, to feel worried. But they are ok, you are ok and we will get through.
Show children ways to calm their bodies down if they are getting physically worked up. Calm breathing (or milkshake breathing), muscular relaxation. This helps distract them from being fixated on the traumatic events, and also physically reduces stress levels
Reframe their thoughts. If they’re fixated on ‘baddies’ and ‘people coming to get them’, help them to reframe to ‘there are so many more good, kind, helpful people around and I have lots of people around me who will look after me’.
For little ones, let them draw. Drawing really can help process many feelings that they struggle with. Playing in sand also is a wonderful way for them to work through any issues they may be experiencing.
Just focus on little steps at a time, if they are scared to go outside. Bring them to the here and now. Step outside and feel the warm sun on our faces. Walk to the letterbox, walk to the end of the street. Slowly build them up
Reduce the amount of ‘what if’s’ which they may worry about. Talk instead about ‘what we know’.
Modelling calm behaviour. Our kids look to us on how to cope in such situations.
Unfortunately trauma happens. And not just on our TV’s. When trauma happens, it’s like our brains hit ‘pause’ to cope, and sometimes if we don’t process properly our brains will keep showing flashes and getting caught in a loop. We need to rewind, review and then allow the video (our brain) to keep playing. Same with children.
There’s been some great tips shared by Jo Lamble, and Dr. Justin Coulson, via Sunrise and the Daily Telegraph respectively. And as always, if your child’s anxieties are over and above what you feel is age appropriate, chat with your GP to seek extra support.
Here’s hoping these tips are some you’ll never have to use with your children. xx
There’s a new brand of crazy in town; the second child. Bugger this middle child shit, second children are sweeping the nation. With their crazed antics. Turning parents’ hair grey. Fraying nerves left, right and centre. All with a cheeky grin and a sass mouth.
In honour of my littlest lady (because, we ALL know we have to be equal with all our children. I don’t want to be chipped for featuring one not the other, you know), I’ve been conducting some market research into the second child. And by market research, I mean whinging to all and sundry “holy shit! My kid is CRAZY! So completely different to her big sister” and then receiving knowing nods, sympathetic eyes, gentle pats on the shoulder and a “yep, my second is a crazed nutter too”. Solidarity. #fistpump So by my really super duper, extensively and scientifically validated market research I have come to a conclusion. There is a syndrome for children that come after the firstborn. I’ve aptly named it “second child syndrome”. Oh yeah, I’m all edgy with my naming of said syndrome.
*NB: It must be noted that this syndrome only applies to our own offspring. It doesn’t apply to us in our own sibset. Oh no no. Because we are awesome and we don’t succumb to stereotypes. Also covering my ass for any second children out there reading this and thinking ‘wtf’.