Ask Amy: How Do I Help My Child Feel Safe Despite the Recent Paris Attacks?

My child is asking lots of questions about the recent attacks in Paris. I’m not sure how to address it with her. Any suggestions?

Such events can leave all of us feeling sad, mad and scared and children may be particularly reactive, which makes them feel unsafe. When children are directly exposed to such events, they can become traumatized, and the emotional impact of trauma can last a very long time if it goes unnoticed. Some children who may not experience the trauma directly may be exposed to it nevertheless through sensationalized newscasts, and there is evidence to suggest that children can be just as traumatized by this kind of indirect contact as well. It is important that parents have information about the impact trauma has on children and how to help them understand and cope with these events.

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First, when something traumatic occurs, it is important to give children an honest, yet age appropriate explanation of what happened. They will almost certainly hear about it through television, schoolmates, etc., so it is best that children receive information from their parents. Second, it is imperative to reassure children, that you will do everything you can to keep them safe. It is wise to limit children’s exposure to newscasts. I don’t mean shield them from it entirely, just limit. Children do not have the reasoning abilities or coping mechanisms to deal with what they might see or hear. It is important to permit children to talk about their feelings and reactions. Although such conversations can be painful, especially if we’re experiencing our own reactions to the trauma, they do help all of us in the long run. One of the worst things we can say to our children is “get over it,” or “you can’t talk about it.” Denial of the child’s reactions can lead to larger problems later. Give them the facts such as, “the bad guys are in jail.”

Sometimes traumatized children look quite “normal” on the surface after the event, and then experience post-traumatic symptoms, weeks, months, or even years later. Many children are quite resilient when dealing with traumatic events, but it is good for parents to know what to look for when their child might be struggling. Here are some signs that might indicate problems for your child: nervousness, agitation, difficulty concentrating, refusing to go to school, angers quickly, aggression, nightmares, won’t sleep alone, startles easily, reverts to younger-age behaviors, fears separation, personality changes. Although these signs could be related to other things, they might indicate your child has been traumatized. The sooner it is treated, the better the outcome is likely to be for the child.

 
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Need more help? Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?” While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services. Click Here to learn more.

Ask Amy: Can I Learn to Connect to my Child?

Jeni writesYou always talk about the significance of the parent-child relationship and how important that connection is. I’m not sure I know how to really connect because I’m pretty sure I never experienced that from my parents. Could you talk about ways to connect and stay connected to my child?

Great question Jeni! You’re right, if you’ve never felt really connected to your parents, it’s highly unlikely that you would know how to do it. The good news is, you can learn!

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Connection takes time. Your time. Your undivided attention is the best way to let your kids know how much you value them. Why not start by playing with your child if they are younger or just hanging out with them if they are older? These times of connection are not times to teach, lecture or nag. They are times for letting the child lead the play or conversation. It’s on their terms and their choosing. You’re just along for the ride doing and talking about things that are of interest to them, not you.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Peek a boo
  • Hide and Seek
  • I Spy
  • Chase
  • Go on a walk
  • Ride bikes
  • Cook
  • Wrestle
  • Tickle games
  • Sing and dance
  • Board games
  • Cards

Hopefully, these ideas will get you started. Thirty minutes, one time a week, is what I like to suggest for this kind of one-on-one time. No distractions from technology, siblings, spouses, friends, chores, etc.

Of course, it’s also important to connect in a quicker way each day. Take 5–10 minutes to check in and see how their day was, what they are feeling and if all is well in their world.

I can promise, if these times are done correctly, you will have a child that is more compliant, cooperative and happy.

I’d love to hear how this works for you, Jeni!
 
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Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.

Ask Amy: How do I get my child to shake the shyness?

“My daughter is so shy. She hides behind me when people speak to her and when she gets invited to birthday parties; she is glued to my leg while everyone else is having a great time. I hate this for her and it is embarrassing for me. How can I help her?”

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Relax! If you’re anxious, you’re making things harder for her. She sounds like the kind of child that is slow to warm up. Give her time to scan the room to see who is there or check out the person that is speaking to her.

In your embarrassment and uncomfortableness, do not call her shy in an apologetic way. ”Oh, she’s just shy” is what many parents say. When kids are labeled, often they live up to their label.

Make sure you do not answer for her, or tell her what to say. Things like this embarrass a more introverted child.

Since kids learn best by playing, role-play different scenarios at home with her. It is always a good idea, before going out, to prepare her and set the expectation. “You don’t have to carry on a conversation, but I do expect you to make eye contact and say hello when someone speaks to you.”

Encourage her by pointing out how brave she was when she looked at Macy’s Mom and said hello.

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Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.

Ask Amy: My Child Hates Me!

“My 6 year old told me recently he hated me and he wished he had a different Mother. I couldn’t believe it! It hurt my feelings and at the same time made me furious. I told him that was disrespectful and he was not allowed to talk to me that way. I then sent him to his room. I don’t know if that was the best thing to do. What should I do if it happens again?”

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It is hard to hear a remark like this from someone we’ve invested so much into for the last 6 years, isn’t it? You will probably hear it again, so let’s come up with a plan.

Rest assured that most young kids I know that say things like this do not really mean it! It usually comes on the heels of them not getting something they want or things not going their way. In other words, they are mad when we say no! The bottom line is they haven’t learned how to use their words to let us know they are feeling angry.

Here’s what we should do.

Acknowledge the fact that they are mad, give them permission to feel that way and then teach them to use their words appropriately.

The next time you hear “I hate you,” respond by saying “I think you’re trying to tell me you are mad because I said no. I want you to know it’s ok that you’re mad and you can always say, Mommy, I’m mad at you because you won’t let me buy this toy”.

You are modeling for him what you want him to do the next time he’s upset with you. That’s addressing the real issue, which is his anger.

Getting angry with him, telling him to stop talking to you like that, sending him to his room, making him apologize to you are all things that further ignite his anger.

Let me know if this helps!

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Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more.

Ask Amy: Screen Time

Q: How do I decide how much screen time is appropriate?

A: That varies from family to family. Just yesterday, I met with a Mom that gives her kids 30 minutes, 3 times a day – only because it’s summer. During the school year, it is 30 minutes after school and an hour a day on the weekends. I spoke with another family last week that allows it on the weekends only, and yet another family that doesn’t have any specific time constraints with their kiddos. As you can see, there are many different opinions here.

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It depends on your child too. Some children can’t handle much before their behavior changes, while others can. Older kids and teens probably need more time than younger ones. I’m not a fan of electronics in their bedrooms, nor do I think it’s a good idea at bedtime. Electronics used as a babysitter is not advocated either.

When I speak of screen time, I’m including all of it…TV, computer, iPad, iPhone, gaming devices and the like. I encourage you to think about the adverse effects of being so immersed in the electronic world. Research is showing us that children with too much screen time are not as socially adept, have more behavioral problems, sleep difficulties, obesity and aggressive tendencies, to name a few. I’m seeing more and more kids that have difficulty with reciprocal conversation and the ability to make eye contact. They do not get to practice these important social skills when they are connected electronically. We know, for development, children need to and should be playing, being creative, experimenting and being relational. This is how they learn.

Media is part of our culture. Let’s help our kids make good decisions about it.

Ask Amy: Solutions to Summertime Boredom!

In this edition of “Ask Amy”, our reader asks what she can do to keep her little one busy during summer vacation.

Amy gives several great solutions to the age-old summertime boredom. As parents, it isn’t our job to be the entertainer all time. We can actually create an unhealthy dependance in our children by always providing activities. Listen to these create tips to help develop creative thought and imagination in your kids. For more great parenting tips, go to: www.parentingwithamy.com.

If you have a parenting question, let us know!

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Need more help? Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?” While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services. Click Here to learn more!

Ask Amy: “How Do I Get My Child To Talk?”

We received a great question from a mother desperate to help her daughter open up!  In this episode of “Ask Amy”, Amy addresses the question: “How Do I Get My Child To Talk?”

We’ve all been through this…you ask your son/daughter about their day and receive a one-word answer. It’s frustrating! Here are a few great ways to help your child open up.


If you have a parenting question, let us know!

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Need more help? Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?” While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services. Click Here to learn more!

Ask Amy: “Is it possible to spoil my baby?”

In this episode of “Ask Amy”, Amy addresses the question, “Can I spoil my baby?” There are many opinions on this subject! Listen to what Amy’s approach on loving and caring for your child.

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Need more help? Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?” While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services. Click Here to learn more!

Ask Amy: “How Do I Talk To My Child About Suicide?”

Reader: “How Do I Talk To My Child About Suicide?”

Amy: Watch this great clip from Amy as she addresses how, when, where and what to say to our kids when it comes to suicide.

 

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Need more help?  Parents often jokingly ask Amy, “Will you go home with me?”  While she can’t do that, Amy is available to consult with parents through her consultation services.  Click Here to learn more!