Today’s world is exploding with violence. Wars, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, crime, and strife greet us in the news each day. Kids are not immune to these attacks on our well-being. Children often report feeling anxious, nervous, and worried about what might happen to them.
Parents can do many things to ease their children’s fears. Every family has conflict or problems, but moms and dads have the responsibility to let their kids know that things will be all right. Here are some things you can do to reassure your children:
- Downplay bad news. When the kids read or hear about it, put the incident in perspective by reminding them that life is a balance of good and bad, and that civic leaders are generally trying to keep things going well for people. Point out something good or neutral to offset the bad news. Help kids get involved in community service projects to let them feel they can make a difference in helping others.
- Set a good example. Keep your word, follow through on promises, and remain strong and courageous through bad times, such as a house fire or losing a job. Although it’s hard for all of us to do these things all the time, we have a duty to our children to do the best we can in protecting them and doing our part to ensure that families and communities operate efficiently and happily.
- Don’t fight in front of the kids. When you and your spouse disagree, handle it privately, not where the kids can hear you. There is nothing you can do to reassure your kids more than to show honor, love, and respect to your spouse. A strong marriage is the foundation of a healthy, committed family. Let your children see you kiss, praise, and have fun with your spouse and watch their faces light up with smiles.
- Don’t spoil the kids. Giving in to your kids’ demands, tantrums, or whims is tantamount to ruining their character and sense of security. They need to feel like someone is in control, preferably their parents rather than a peer. Set good boundaries and hold them accountable. They will appreciate knowing their limits and find relief in understanding that their parents care about them.
- Be financially responsible. Provide a comfortable home, even if it is small, and reliable transportation. Make sure their basic needs are met through food, shelter, and family structure. If you don’t pay the bills on time and the electric gets turned off, your kids may wonder which utility will be next, and whether they might eventually lose their home, food, or clothing, much to their embarrassment and shame.
- Operate from a sense of solid values. Take the family to church; don’t be a hypocrite. Practice what you preach. Don’t cheat on taxes or speed laws. When kids see that you believe in firm rules that you consistently follow yourself, you prepare them to enter an adult world responsibly and securely.
Raising kids takes more than time and money. It demands a sense of parental accountability and a willingness to provide a family structure that will help your kids feel safe in today’s unstable world.