Handling uncertainty is a skill that can be learned. Here are a few strategies as parents we can use to help our children and ourselves manage uncertainty...
As I sit down to write, I am unsure what to write about because of all the uncertainty surrounding us right now. So I guess that is what we should talk about, uncertainty.
Uncertainty is distressing for all of us whether we are adults or children. We can never truly know what tomorrow brings but in normal times we have routines, schedules, even seasons that create a sense of certainty for us. When those are gone, it can be difficult, even overwhelming.
So how can we help ourselves and our kids live through the uncertain times we are facing right now? Handling uncertainty is a skill that can be learned. Here are a few strategies as parents we can use to help our children and ourselves manage uncertainty:
- Be Real: Don’t try to pretend that things are not uncertain and unsettling. Being too optimistic and overly positive can be confusing for our kids. It is okay for you to show them that the uncertainty is hard for you as well.
- Acknowledge the Feelings: Allow your kids to voice their feelings; the loss, fears, disappointments, sadness, etc. In some cases you might need to spend time talking with them to help them identify what they are feeling in all of this. This is a valuable exercise in helping them develop emotional intelligence.
- Control the News: As adults we are able to control the information coming in related to all the uncertainty. The news makes money from creating fear so not all news is necessary or healthy. We can take specific measures to not allow the scary rumors and sensationalistic news to increase the fear, especially for our kids.
- Routines: Though many of our routines that create certainty may be missing right now, there are still many that we can keep in our home and with our families to help create a sense of certainty for our kids. Look for ways to create routines when and where you can.
- It’s Not Forever: We need to be cautious about being overly optimistic or pretending like nothing is wrong, yet at the same time remember and remind our kids that this is not forever. Though we need to be real with our kids, it’s important to give them hope. Having hope in the future helps us persevere through the difficult times we are in right now.
- Gratitude: Practicing gratitude for what we do have, even in the midst of all the loss, is a helpful way to stop focusing on all the negatives. Studies have shown that taking time to be grateful can have a positive influence on our emotions and overall mental health.
The uncertainty we are facing is not easy for us or our kids. We have no control over it and cannot change it, but we can control what we do and hopefully some of these strategies can help us gain some certainty in the uncertainty.
Written by Karl Steinkamp
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