Document 71657

Getting through,
together
Everywhere we turn now we can see the
message that ‘All kids need routines’ This
is very true. For families that have been
through change or trauma the re-establishing of everyday routines is really important for creating a sense of normality.
“Make an aim of
hugging your
children four, five,
or more times a
day.”
Working on regular meal times and bed
times reinforces for children that life continues despite disruptions.
However, for kids to grow and thrive
through the sort of disasters we have
been through there’s a few extra things
that can be done to provide support and
encouragement. Children can cope better
with disasters when they know they are
loved and supported by those closest to
them, it’s what the experts call ‘building
resilience.’ We can help children know
they are loved and that they can trust
those closest to them through a few simple practices.
The first thing that could really help your
family is lots of hugs and affection. Make
an aim of hugging your children four, five,
or more times a day. Tell them that you
think they are great as you do it. Sit down
together with a book or puzzle and stay
physically connected as you read or play
together. Conversations about things like
earthquakes that may create feelings of
anxiety in children are best done when
parents and children are physically connected. When parents and children are in
contact through things like brushing hair,
bath time, or hugs, Oxytocin (a feel-good
hormone) is released in both parent and
child.
You can encourage resilience in your
children by creating a scrapbook all about
them. Print off photos, cut out pictures
from magazines, and draw together.
Create pages that show things like ‘favourites,’ but also ‘fun memories,’ and
especially ‘people who love me.’ Look at
and read the scrapbook often together to
encourage your child to remember all the
people who care about them.
For much older children consider writing
them a note to leave on their pillow at
night to tell them that you think they are
incredible (even when you’re not so sure!).
Tell them one thing you really appreciated
that they did that day.
Another thing you can do to encourage
your children is to consider creating a few
new routines. Here’s a few suggestions to
develop closeness and resilience:
Suggestion one
Eat your evening meals together, around a
table, with tvs and cell phones turned off.
Studies have shown that children who
eat around a table with their families five
times a week or more are more resilient
than other children and are likely to be
happier and healthier. Research has even
shown that they are less likely to smoke,
drink or use drugs in adolescence and
they are more likely to get higher grades
in school, have stronger friendships, and
better relationships with their parents –
all from eating together around a table!
Things to do around the table:
Once you are around the table say grace.
As well as thanking God for the meal you
are about to eat, ask everyone to think
of one or two things they are thankful for
from that day. If someone’s had a hard
day this can be difficult but looking for
one positive thing in each day can help us
through tough times. Let different members of the family say grace and thank
God for all the good things that have happened that day, but don’t force someone
to say grace that isn’t keen.
While you are eating, use the time to talk.
“Children who eat
around a table with
their families five
times a week or
more are more
resilient than other
children and are
likely to be happier
and healthier.”
Think of open ended questions for your
kids, questions that will have them say
more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as their answer.
Some examples of open ended questions
are: What do you think makes a good
teacher? If you could redesign your whole
school, what would it look like? Tell me
about something I didn’t know you did
last week. Asking a child about their earliest memory or to name some favourite
things they remember from preschool can
also lead to great conversations. Parents
can tell their children what they were like
as babies and toddlers and funny stories
of things they did when they were very
young.
As you get used to talking together you
can start introducing deeper questions
such as: What was the best thing about
your day and what was the hardest thing
about your day? If children aren’t used to
listening to each other the last question
can be difficult and children may not feel
comfortable sharing, again, don’t force it.
Suggestion two
Have a family activity that you do together
once a week.
Doing something extra together as a family, or with another family, is also a great
way to build strong relationships and encourage resilient kids. Getting out of the
house is a good idea. You don’t have to do
something extravagant; the aim is just to
be together.
Make a regular time each week, like a
Saturday or Sunday afternoon and stick
to it. Try walking somewhere to feed
some ducks, or walk around a few blocks
counting the different colour letterboxes
or houses or cars as you go. Look out for
people to say hello to as you walk. Go to
the park to kick a ball around, fly a kite
or throw a Frisbee. Take a trip to the Port
Hills, the Botanic Gardens, Deans Bush,
the new lake at Pegasus, or the beach.
Even in winter these trips can be good. If
it’s pouring with rain try doing a jigsaw
together, or playing a board game, or a
game of
+ FAMILY FUN TIP
Consider having a family movie
night once a week, some classic
family movies include:
The Princess Bride, Charlotte’s Web,
ET, The Labyrinth, The Wizard of Oz,
Babe: The Gallant Pig, Raiders of the
Lost Ark, Fantasia, Superman, Willy
Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Suggestion three
Read together
Now’s a good time to be purposeful in the
sorts of books you read to children. Find
books that convey that you love them.
HELPING KIDS GET
THROUGH
“Find books that
convey that you
love them.”
Favourites like: ‘Guess How Much I Love
You’ by Sam McBratney, ‘No Matter What’
by Debi Gliori, and ‘You are Special’ by
Max Lucado remind children that they are
valued. For very young children you can
make a routine of reading the same story
every night to remind them that you care
about them.
+ READING TIP
For older children consider reading
aloud a chapter book about young
people growing up. Books like the
‘Narnia’ series, ‘The Hobbit’ or ‘A
Wrinkle in Time’ are all great coming of age tales that are as good to
listen to as to read alone.
For Christian families, read the bible
together to remind yourselves that
God loves you and cares about you.
The Beginners Bible is excellent for
very young children while the Day
By Day Kids Bible by Karyn Henley is
great for older children to have read
to or take turns to read.
Starting new routines can be difficult at
first but if you talk to the whole family and
explain why things are changing everyone
can take responsibility for making it happen. It’s important to remember that no
families are perfect and it may feel like it’s
hard work being together at times. It can
be easier to do activities together if you
have realistic expectations. If your family doesn’t usually do much together you
may find your kids fight at first.
Don’t stress, focus instead on the good
moments, even if they’re fleeting, and
trust that, over time, things will improve.
Keep your eyes on the big picture.
The important thing is spending time together as a family. After a while it will feel
like you’ve been doing your new routines
forever and you’ll notice it more and even
miss it when you don’t do it.
+ STILL ANXIOUS?
If you have a child that is particularly anxious there
are a few things you can do to help them feel more in
control.
Put together their own emergency backpack with a
torch, snacks, bottle of water, toy, and book. This will
help take away a worried child’s sense of
helplessness.
As a family practice together that you will do in emergency situations like a fire or earthquake. Talk about
where a good place to ‘drop, cover and hold’ would be
in each room of the house.
+ PARENTS GUIDE
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