Saturday, 2 March 2019

Rage of Angels

War is never over
Though we win the victory
Still in our minds the battles 
No freedom is not free
Cecil L Harrison

#Pulwama attacks # India Strikes Back #Pakistan retaliates

War is not easy to understand and accept. With the recent tensions escalating between India and Pakistan, we find all news papers; news channels and social media platforms are full of audio-video footage showing hatred speeches, mourning family members and damages caused by the attacks. Understandably, many young children feel confused, upset, and anxious. Parents can help them cope and reduce the possibility of emotional difficulties by creating an open environment where they feel free to ask questions, express their feelings and learn to cope up with the trauma.
Let us help them to get through difficult times and go on with their lives happily.
How do we do that? Let’s try to handle our children in such trying situations?

Reactions from children:
     1.      There might be some physical reactions such as continued crying, worry about friends, relatives living in conflicted areas and so on. Many children may show their anxiety and stress through complaints of physical aches and pains.
     2.      Children may try to show their anxiety through some specific repetitive actions such as trouble in sleeping alone, persistent upsetting thoughts, fearful images, intense dreams about death, and trouble in leaving their parents while going to school.
    3.      Some older children might get preoccupied with watching or playing violent war games virtually or on their mobiles. Some may also start bullying the weaker ones by calling them names, making fun of them or hitting them.

Parents Responses
    1.      As adults, we would be naturally engaged in talking about the current scenario with family members, friends and colleagues. We would like to get all kind of information from wherever we can and further disseminate it too. Sometimes, this may mean watching violent scenes of bloodshed, acts of physical or verbal hatred against the other nation/community.
     2.      Watching violent incidents may lead to blood boiling and heated discussions in the presence of children. Some parents may become visibly anxious and terrified about the resultant retaliation and escalation of violence.

What do parents do to reduce the stress?

Accept your vulnerabilities.

Let children know how you are feeling. It's OK for them to know if you are anxious or worried about events. Remember that children learn from watching their parents and teachers. They are very interested in how you respond to events. They learn from listening to your conversations with other adults. Avoid stereotyping groups of people by race, nationality, or religion. Instead use the opportunity to teach tolerance and explain prejudice.

Listen to children:
Don't force children to talk about things until they're ready. Help children communicate with others and express themselves at home. Some children may want to write letters to the President, Governor, local newspaper, or to grieving families. Don't confront your child's way of handling events. If a child feels reassured by saying that things are happening very far away, it's usually best not to disagree. The child may need to think about events this way to feel safe.

Try to talk to them.
Use words and concepts your child can understand. Make your explanation appropriate to your child's age and level of understanding. Don't overload a child with too much information. Give children honest answers and information. Children will usually know if you're not being honest. Be prepared to repeat explanations or have several conversations. Some information may be hard to accept or understand. Asking the same question over and over may be your child's way of asking for reassurance. Acknowledge and support your child's thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Let your child know that you think their questions and concerns are important. Some children may not be able to talk about their thoughts, feelings, or fears. They may be more comfortable drawing pictures, playing with toys, or writing stories or poems directly or indirectly related to current events. Help children find ways to express themselves.

Try to maintain the routine.
Children are reassured by structure and familiarity. Help children establish a predictable routine and schedule. School studies, sports, birthdays, holidays, play-dates and group activities will help you to keep them engaged during stressful times. If required, coordinate information between home and school. Teachers should know about the child's specific fears or concerns. Children may not want to think or talk a lot about these events. It is alright if they'd rather play football, hold tea-parties, climb trees, or ride their bike.

In today's world, parents are faced with the challenge of explaining violence, terrorism, and war to children. Although difficult, these conversations are extremely important. Use these as an opportunity to help your children feel more secure and understand the world in which they live.

And, most importantly, 

let children be children.

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