We just came through our first quarantine from one of my kids being exposed to coronavirus at school. When I told her she needed to quarantine, there were so many tears as she thought about all the things she would miss while being at home and then even more if she got the virus. Helping children through hard times and use them for good can feel like a tall order.
Through her eyes I felt the pain of loss. I’ll be honest this time has stretched me and grown me. I believe it is good for me and my kids to go through hard times because they help us to: strengthen us, grow us, rely on God, prepare us for future challenges, and see the benefits that challenges offer.
We want them to not have to go through pain and hardship, but when they do we also want to be able to help them live through it 🙂 and use it for good.
Here are 5 Mileposts for Helping Children Through Hard Times and Use Them for Good.
Milepost #1 Don’t tell them, “it’s going to be ok”
Resist the urge to tell them it’s going to be ok or try to keep them from feeling the pain. Instead, help them name their feelings. Recognize when they have something that happens that is a loss for them or something that they are trying to understand. Affirm their feelings and give them a space to express them. Let them know you are having a hard time too.
Milepost #2 Look for opportunities to be consistent with routine, schedules, and expectations
In hard times, it can be easy to feel at loose ends or out of control. Children need consistencies they can depend on. We all do. These consistencies help us to feel like we can cope with the difficult things from a solid foundation.
Milepost #3 Help them recognize the good things that are happening.
Start conversations about good things that you see going on during the hard time. This can be done by laughing about something silly that happened as a result of the hard thing, asking for a high point of the day at the dinner table, or keeping a jar of the things you are grateful for.
Milepost #4 Lead the way by showing them how to rest and replenish through hard times
Taking space for rest during hard times is important. Children can get run down and depleted too. With life being different and inconsistent there is even more need for rest because it takes more energy to do the regular things. Remember that rest is not just sleep, but it is also taking time to replenish spiritually (reading Bible stories, singing, praying), physically (hugs, eating, being outside, sleeping, deep breathing), mentally (hobbies, humor, dance parties) and more.
Milepost #5 Help them seek out someone else to help or serve
It’s easy and often necessary to go inward in hard times and in coronavirus even more so with the isolation. It can also be important to help them see the broader picture of other people needing help to. Help them identify ways they can use their resources and strengths to help someone out. This can help them feel they have a place and they are not victims of what is happening.
This is a challenging time on a big scale. Our children are experiencing this right along with us and there are many milesposts that we can use to help them grow and thrive even through this.