Coping in a Time of Crisis
The Peaceful Parenting Newsletter
A free e-mail newsletter from Naomi Drew
The face of crisis sometimes reveals the best in people. Waiting for hours at the American Red Cross to donate blood, I was totally inspired by the huge labyrinths of lines that wrapped and wound around the building - people of all ages, colors, and walks of life wanting to help in any way they could. A man visiting from India was volunteering. He said "Even though I don't live here I had to come today and do what I could. My heart goes out to you" This is the spirit of the people. Beyond the grief and anger is a grace and generosity that's incomprehensibly beautiful. It's what America is all about. Its what the core of most human beings throughout the world is all about. We must take care that our grief doesnt rob us of the ability to see the basic decency of the people who inhabit this wonderful, fragile planet.
We cannot allow this tragedy to splinter us. Let us choose our words carefully. Please keep sending prayers for peace, healing, and a deeper connection among all people.
author, Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids
p.s. Please pass this newlsetter on to anyone for whom it can make a difference. If you would like to receive future copies of Peaceful Parenting (always free) just drop me an e-mail.
Coping With The Crisis
The thought thats foremost in so many peoples minds is: How do we cope with this horrible event and how do we help our children cope? What follows are some concrete suggestions for both you and your children.
For you first:
- Know that even though we have no control over events outside ourselves, we do have control over our immediate surroundings. What can you do to make your environment more comforting right now? What affirmations might you say to bring forth hope and healing?
-Create a daily ritual that will help you focus on healing. Take some time each day to meditate or pray. If possible, do this with your family.
- Talk. Reach out to friends, colleagues, and extended family. This is a very important time to nurture connections.
- Limit viewing of and reading about these tragic events. Stay informed, but dont get hooked into the constant barrage of devastating images.
- Express your emotions. Find time to let the tears flow and frustration surface. Then move on. Allow the cycle of grief to continue to express itself, but keep moving forward each time.
- Keep a journal. Journaling allows us to express emotions, unload upsetting thoughts, and reflect. It unburdens the mind, and research has shown that this process actually enhances the immune system. Take some time each day - it's worth it.
- Keep the structures of your daily life in place as much as possible, but enrich them with nurturing, healing activities.
- Practice extreme self-care. In times of stress we often neglect our physical and emotional needs, but doing so can actually worsen the toll stress takes. Get a little extra sleep if you can, eat properly, exercise, and take a few extra breaks throughout the day, even if theyre short.
- Do something to help. When we take action we feel less powerless. At the end of this newsletter are the names of some organizations you can reach out to with offers of help. Make it a family project.
THE FOLLOWING APPLIES TO BOTH YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN:
- Don't focus on revenge or retribution. Know, and let your children know, that sometimes people do very bad things but that doesn't make a whole nation of people wrong. The people who committed this act need to be punished for what they did, but other people of their ethnic origin must not be blamed. We must be vigilant against practicing hatred and prejudice.
- Honor the questions. There are some things in life for which there are no answers. Sometimes we need to focus on our questions instead, like how can we prevent something like this from happening in the future? What can we do in our own lives to prevent hatred and violence?
For Your Children:
From the National Association of School Psychologists
Parents and school personnel can help children cope first and foremost by establishing a sense of safety and security. As the nation learns more about what happened and why, adults can continue to help children work through their emotions and perhaps even use the process as a learning experience.
All Adults in Contact With Children Should:
1. Model calm and control. Children take their emotional cues from the significant adults in their lives. Avoid appearing anxious or frightened.
2. Reassure children that they are safe and so are the other important adults in their lives. Explain that these buildings were targeted for their symbolism and that schools, neighborhoods, and regular office buildings are not at risk.
3. Remind them that trustworthy people are in charge. Explain that the government emergency workers, police, fireman, doctors, and even the military are helping people who are hurt and are working to ensure that no further tragedies occur.
4. Let children know that it is okay to feel upset. Explain that all feelings are okay when a tragedy like this occurs. Let children talk about their feelings and help put them into perspective. Even anger is okay, but children may need help and patience from adults to assist them in expressing these feelings appropriately.
5. Observe childrens emotional state. Depending on their age, children may not express their concerns verbally. Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a childs level of grief, anxiety or discomfort. Children will express their emotions differently. There is no right or wrong way to feel or express grief.
6. Tell children the truth. Dont try to pretend the event has not occurred or that it is not serious. Children are smart. They will be more worried if they think you are too afraid to tell them what is happening.
7. Stick to the facts. Dont embellish or speculate about what has happened and what might happen. Dont dwell on the scale or scope of the tragedy, particularly with young children.
8. Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.
Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that the daily structures of their lives will not change. Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what is being done at their school. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy.
Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. They will be more committed to doing something to help the victims and affected community. For all children, encourage them to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. Be a good listener!
What Parents Can Do At Home
1. Focus on your children in the days ahead. Tell them you love them and everything will be okay. Try to help them understand what has happened, keeping in mind their developmental level.
2. Make time to talk with your children. Remember if you do not talk to your children about this incident someone else will. Take some time and determine what you wish to say.
3. Stay close to your children. Your physical presence will reassure them and give you the opportunity monitor their reaction. Many children will want actual physical contact. Give plenty of hugs. Let them sit close to you, and make sure to take extra time at bedtime to cuddle and to reassure them that they are loved and safe.
4. Limit the amount of your childs television viewing of these events. If they must watch, watch with them for a brief time; then turn the set off. Dont sit mesmerized re-watching the same events over and over again.
5. Maintain a "normal" routine. To the extent possible stick to your familys normal routine for dinner, homework, chores, bedtime, etc., but dont be inflexible. Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night.
6. Spend extra time reading or playing quiet games with your children before bed. These activities are calming, foster a sense of closeness and security, and reinforce a sense of normalcy. Spend more time tucking them in. Let them sleep with a light on if they ask for it.
7. Safeguard your childrens physical health. Stress can take a physical toll on children as well as adults. Make sure your children get appropriate sleep, exercise and nutrition.
8. Consider praying or thinking hopeful thoughts for the victims and their families. It may be a good time to take your children to church or the synagogue, write a poem, or draw a picture to help your child express their feelings and feel that they are somehow supporting the victims and their families.
9. Find out what resources your school has in place to help children cope. Most schools are likely to be open and often are a good place for children to regain a sense of normalcy. Being with their friends and teachers can help. Schools should also have a plan for making counseling available to children and adults who need it.
For more information on helping children and youth with this crisis, contact NASP at (301) 657-0270 or visit NASPs website at www.nasponline.org
National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814, (301) 657-0270, Fax (301) 657-0275
Who to Contact if You Want to Help
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Charity Fund
Americares - Aid for Terrorist Attack Victims
The September 11th Fund
American Red Cross
P.O. Box 37243
Washington, DC 20013
Keys to Peaceful Parenting
An International Teleworkshop
(a workshop conducted by phone)
Join parents across the globe for this cutting-edge workshop simply by dialing in to a main phone number. There will be a preview session on October 4 from 9:00 - 10:00 p.m. Then a 4-session series will be offered during the months of October and November.
Each session will include concrete strategies with immediate applicability, interactive exercises, and answers to your most important questions. You will learn:
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- Ways to improve family communication
Sponsored by World Family Connections, a wonderful program whose mission is to foster healthy, strong family living for people across the globe, reaching beyond boundaries in support of justice, peace, unity, and service.
If you would like further details or wish to register, go to the World Family Connections website - http://www.worldfamilyconnections.com or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love and peace to all of you!
Visit my website, Learningpeace.com
To schedule a complimentary "Peaceful Parenting" coaching session by phone, e-mail Naomi Drew at email@example.com or call 609-844-1138. Peaceful Parenting Coaching enables parents to work individually, as couples, or with their children on practical strategies that create greater harmony, less conflict. Sessions can be done by phone or in person. Crisis coaching is also available.
Naomi Drew is the author of three books, all available through Amazon.com:
Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids (Kensington Publishers)
Learning the Skills of Peacemaking (Jalmar Press)
The Peaceful Classroom in Action (Jalmar Press)
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Copyright Naomi Drew, August, 2001 All Rights Reserved.
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