One of the biggest problems for children and teenagers of any age in the face of traumatic events will center on how they deal with their sense of fear and helplessness. The worst danger isn’t that children experience fear. The worst danger comes when fear is not recognized and accepted by a safe and secure caregiver. A child’s sense of fear, when it is unattended to by a caregiver, moves in the direction of terror. The child’s sense of helplessness, when unshared and unregulated by the caregiver moves in the direction of despair.
Unregulated fear and unregulated helplessness become overwhelming for children primarily because they don’t feel like they can be shared with someone who can take a protective and kind role in their lives. One major goal for families to consider in the time of crisis and disaster is for caregivers to develop a sense of clear direction and sound encouragement in offering themselves as a resource for the management of fear and powerlessness. Attachment research fully supports how valuable parents are in circumstances where it may appear that they themselves are without usefulness and value.
An important thing for parents to remember that in a time of crisis they don't need to have all the answers, they need to be a source of comfort for their children. More than anyone else during a time of disaster, a child’s primary caregivers are the center of that child’s world and are the resource that can make all the difference.
Offering predictable daily routines that a child can count on becomes a valuable resource, especially when these routines are sponsored by a trusted caregiver. Help children find examples of specific things, events, and people for which to be grateful for in the midst of great difficulty. Gratitude can be the one thing that helps a family focus on solutions during a crisis.
During a time of crisis, children will be looking for the following capacities in their primary caregivers:
All my love in this time of crisis,
March 22, 2020