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Post - 2021-07-21

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TIPS FOR PARENTS

COMMENT

BELINDA RYKENBERG AND ESTELLE VAN EEDEN

CHAOS and confusion in our communities may increase the vulnerability of our at-risk children and families. We encourage you to strengthen your support networks. Protect your families by reaching out for help when needed. You are not alone during the lockdown or this period of civil unrest. Now, more than ever, we need to breathe, stay calm, and be the holding space for ourselves and our children. We will get through this and, in days to come, will have modelled to our children what bravery and courage is. We are standing together and truth is prevailing through the storm. Don’t give up. Here are some pointers to help: Civil Unrest: Tips for parents Create a safe space: Allow children to speak about what is on their minds and reflect their feelings back to them. Validate big feelings: This allows your child to feel heard and understood. There's no shame in being overwhelmed by the chaos and uncertainty. Being scared is okay: But we don’t allow fear to rule our home. At a volatile time for South Africa, we experience many emotions. This is normal for adults and children. Talk openly about these feelings. Manage media coverage Continued exposure to sensational and emotion-stirring images (for example, burning buildings, riots, etc) can be retraumatising. Limit exposure to news bulletins and video streams. Explain the content and context. Ask your child how they feel about what they hear and see. Recognise the emotion and encourage conversation. Talk positively about first responders, including the police, medical staff, private security and others. Reinforce that your child is safe. Comfort those who are struggling with anxiety, fear, or anger. Manage big emotions: Manage your own reactions as a parent. Be vigilant about how you talk about the events, and the individuals responding and perpetrating. It is natural to be stressed and worried, but be careful not to vent to the child and burden them with your emotions. This is an opportunity to model good coping skills for your child. Answer questions honestly, but without adding unnecessary information that may confuse or overwhelm your child. Use open-ended questions to help children voice their feelings. For kids who struggle with words, encourage them to write or draw what they feel or what scares them the most. Find a positive way for your family to deal with the situation. Ideas include baking for first responders and writing thank you notes. * Rykenberg is owner of Life Heroes and offers a social and emotional development programme for schools, aimed at helping children recognise, understand and manage their emotions, and to make better choices in life. For more information, email Life Heroes on info@lifeheroes.co.za Van Eeden is director of Sparrow Trust, a counterhuman trafficking organisation based in Amanzimtoti, see www.facebook.com/ sparrowtrustza

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