The activities in this book are designed to encourage communication and help you to make your child feel safe in challenging times. Even when parents are protective, caring, and sensitive, children may need extra help to cope with a crisis. Different children have different needs. Children with the same experience may respond in different ways. Pay attention to changes in the way your child looks or behaves. There are times when changes in behavior mean your child needs extra help from a health care professional.
Create healthy ways for your child to express emotions, such as the activities described in this book. Let your child see you using healthy ways to express emotions.
The following changes or behaviors may be signs of a problem:
Children may show one of these behaviors, or many of them; they may do them just a little, or all the time. It’s important that you talk to a health care provider, teacher, school counselor, or mental health professional if you see any of these behaviors. These people can help figure out whether your child’s reactions are nothing to worry about, or if your child needs some special attention or care.
Prevention is more than just saying "no" or "stop." Prevention has two parts: 1) Spotting trouble before it becomes a problem; and 2) Knowing how to work through a problem once it happens. To learn more, look at each one a little closer.
Consider these ways to spot trouble before it turns into a full-blown problem:
Different problems need different solutions. To solve tough problems, you may need more complex methods. Keep these things in mind when trying to work through a problem:
The above text was adapted from Adventures in Parenting: How Responding, Preventing, Monitoring, Mentoring, and Modeling can help you be a successful parent, NICHD, NIH Pub. No. 00-0482. For more information on this booklet, contact the NICHD Information Resource Center at 1-800-370-2943.
Most of the activities in this book focus on building skills to cope with an “everyday crisis”—that is, a situation that many families face every day that can be hard or stressful. These everyday coping skills can also be helpful during a big crisis, such as the events of September 11, 2001, the war in Iraq, or famine and conflict in Africa. By working together to handle an everyday crisis, you and your child will set up good patterns for dealing with bigger, more extreme events.
During a big crisis, you may want to change some of the activities in the book to focus on the major event. For instance, you could do Activity 2: A picture is worth a thousand words using an image from a big crisis, instead of one from an everyday crisis. In this case, be sure to use an image that isn’t too violent or too scary for your child’s age.
If you have questions about how to change activities to deal with a big crisis, or you want to know more about helping your child handle these situations, talk to a health care provider, teacher, school counselor, or mental health professional. Or contact one of the additional resources listed in the next section of this book.