We live in an uncertain world. Many circumstances that affect our lives often feel out of our control, causing anxiety, feelings of helplessness, even fear. A crisis situation exists any time that your child is no longer safe by himself or with others or when there is a need for immediate action or intervention. The loss of a loved one, a natural disaster, civil unrest, or a health challenge are all events that can lead to a crisis. How those situations affect children can be especially disturbing. And it is usually a time when all of your energies are called upon to care for your child.
Handling the Stress of Crisis
The best response for parents and caregivers is to stay calm and reassuring. Children have the unquestionable ability to pick up on others’ distress regardless of life stage, which in turn may cause problems. Depending on age, children experiencing a crisis may have issues sleeping, eating properly, ‘acting out,’ feeling sad, as well as behaving in a stubborn way or acting grouchier than they might have before.
Young children, especially, have not yet developed articulate communication skills, so it can be challenging to gauge their level of anxiety. Their behavior can be a better sign of the issues they are feeling.
Behaviors to Look For
Signs of stress in younger kids may include: social regression—going back to an earlier stage of development, tantrums, clinginess to parents and caregivers, moodiness, and even violence such as hitting and playing in an over-aggressive manner.
Children learn by exploring their world and adopting behaviors, often by repetition or trial and error. A crisis very often disrupts day-to-day routines. It’s hard for young children to fully understand what’s happening around them. Signs of child trauma include not being able to do the things they are used to doing. Sleeping and eating patterns can be disrupted. Over or under reactions to physical contact, sudden movements, even loud noises, such as slamming doors are all manifestations of a stressed child. Toddlers, in particular, may revert back to bedwetting or other toilet issues.
What Parents Can Do
Expect a crisis. Every child will go through some sort of crisis. It is a natural part of growing up, so don’t be surprised! Expect and prepare for it. Be ready for the opportunity to guide your child through this important life experience.
Know your child. The best way to help is to see the crisis coming, but you won’t see a crisis coming if you don’t know your child. Crisis causes kids to change what they say, how they feel and how they act. Know what is normal so you can recognize the change.
Love your child. Kids feel pain when they’re in crisis. They need your love and your trust. They need you. But they will not come to you in a time of storm if they don’t feel your love in times of calm. Show your kids you love them now!
Be honest with your kids. Open, age-appropriate communication with children is an absolute must for building and maintaining trust and two-way conversations. When at a loss for words, seek out assistance through the multitude of agencies and resource offices.
Choosing Your Daycare Provider
While it’s vital that parents work to help their kids through difficulties while at home, the realities of life—and working parents—must include positive measures provided outside the home. Choosing a daycare facility that is prepared and trained for an often uncertain and chaotic world is important to your child’s well-being. During uncertain times, it’s important to know that your child is being well taken care of outside the home. Knowing that the kids are being cared for in a positive, healthy environment can be a huge factor in creating peace of mind for the entire family.
Dedicated and Sympathetic Caregivers
Many childcare counselors who work with children recommend using play therapy, a proven method that utilizes playtime and recreational activities to help understand what is going on with the child. It’s oftentimes hard to tell what’s going on in a child’s mind. They cannot tell you how they feel about a situation or discuss their hurts and fears. However, they are often able to reveal those feelings and fears through play, drawing or games. Parents and other caring adults also find that spending time with children in play can be incredibly useful in helping them through crisis and loss.
The play philosophy utilized at Riley Crossing provides an environment where children can explore throughout the day. They can explore in classroom learning centers, participate in large muscle activities and small group instruction, at their own pace with the goal of reaching their highest potential. Additionally, learning alongside ‘Grandfriends’—a unique Riley Crossing intergenerational program—helps kids to see beyond their own small worlds, learning more about life and the similarities between themselves and their classmates. This understanding and love lays a foundation for celebrating diversity, a skill that children will use throughout their lives.
Riley Crossing Child Care focuses on the ‘whole family,’ where caring instructors offer a range of unique programs that bring together all generations in a stimulating and co-learning environment. Our caring professionals provide a safe, instructional, and fun place for kids from infants through toddlers. While children of these ages may not fully understand a crisis happening around them, they can be affected by the behaviors and language of others. Providing a safe haven for children to just be kids is the ultimate purpose at Riley Crossing.
Every member of the Riley Crossing staff believes that the value of open, honest communication with your child is the most important thing that can be done to foster a sense of safety and well-being. We don’t settle for simply ‘watching’ kids. Riley Crossing understands the amount of brain development and learning that occurs in the earliest years. And we believe it’s important to have loving caregivers who know how to organize the day so that the children are engaged and excited to be there.
The most critical factor in building resilience in children and helping them overcome traumatic situations is to have safe and loving adults who are consistently there for them and available physically and emotionally. Children are very durable. And it is incredible what children can endure. Most children can even thrive after a crisis if they have consistent and stable loving adults who are available to them and who show them how much they care. Creating a stimulating and trusted ‘home away from home’ is the philosophy behind every caregiver at Riley Crossing Child Care. Plus, we know how to make the daycare experience fun!