During these trying times with the ongoing #EndSars protests; here are some important tips for parents to ensure your children’s positive Mental Health. It is critical that parents are aware that they play a critical part when it comes to preserving the positive mental health of the children and family. Children have access to the internet and are probably getting the same information you are.
Below are some Tips for Parents During the Protests
by Timi Oyebode
As the noise and the turmoil increase, one group of people we should not forget are the children.
This is not the time to shut them up or keep them in the dark. They are confused, they are worried, they need information…as much as you do.
Children can see people carrying placards, they hear gun shots, talks, news and videos of people dying, bloodshed and school closure.
In addition, they can see adults crying, shouting, angry and cursing. Mothers forgetting to cook dinner, fathers sitting glued to TV news stations… no chance for their cartoon.
Some woke up with nightmares, some cannot even sleep… they know hell is let lose but don’t know who to ask, what to ask, how to ask… the adults around are overwhelmed.
Leaving them to catch informations as it flies around, or leaving them to their imaginations and little scary gists shared with or by their friends hurdled in corners will expose them to trauma, re-traumatization and even PTSD.
Things you can do
1. Talk to them about what’s happening. Explain it in basic terms, tell them about good governance and citizens right. Answer their questions and let them talk about it all.
Whatever you tell them, be mindful to end it, in a positive hopeful note.
2. Avoid using phrases like ‘They are killing protesters, who are fighting for your future’ children tends to assume blame when pain is inflicted on someone else,
and to think the people killed was fighting for them can make children assume the guilt.
3. Let them watch their cartons and favourite TV programs at their previously agreed time. Do not focus on listening to news and deprive them (especially if there is only one TV in the house).
4. Spare them the gruesome videos and posts on your social media handles & status. Their mind may find it difficult to get rid of the pictures later on.
5. Reassure them of their safety and teach them self-safety skills. Help them to understand if in danger and what to do or where to go if endangered and you are not around.
6. Encourage them to engage more in mental resilience activities ie dancing, singing, storytelling or writing, eating healthy, going to bed in time, sleeping appropriately.
7. Discuss their overnight dreams. Ask them and be deliberate to interpret the dreams positively for them. Be careful not to laugh at them or whatever they tell you. Don’t shout at them to go to bed, nighttime could be scary.
8. Positivity is key to helping those around you, not get overwhelmed or traumatized with all that is happening. So tell them, it all shall end in good. Mostly those with a lot of positivity, see the end of a time. Paint the picture of a new Nigeria for them.
9. Let them grieve too. Don’t be too engrossed in your grief to ignore theirs. Let them cry if they want to… you can hug them and you all cry together. It’s comforting and it aids healing for them.
[Tweet “Don’t be too engrossed in your grief to ignore theirs. Let them cry if they want to… you can hug them and you all cry together.”]
10. Let them play and play with them too. Share jokes, watch movies together. Dance together and tell them how much you love them. Play reassures them and also gives room to express themselves, giving you a glimpse into their thoughts.
11. Pray together. Let them pray for the nation, the protesters, their friends and family. Let them pray for everything. Share the scripture with them on God stand about sin, wickedness and national troubles.
12. Call on families and friends to check on them. Let your children talk to them too as well as calling their friends or friend’s parents, it would help reduce their anxiety.
13. Educate them about Mental Health and why it’s important for them to be emotionally okay. Confirm at least 5 things that they enjoy doing, let them be aware of it and encourage them to do it.
You Can Get Help
If your child, ward or family member is struggling with trauma, anxiety, fear, sleep disorder or PTSD, you can reach out to us @adicounselling for child psychologists, professional Counsellors, psychotherapists and trauma recovery experts.