The receding waters are one of the first visible signs that the flooding situation is headed in a positive direction. Obviously, the road to recovery is long and will include bumps along the way. Children will continue to rely on parents and caregivers for support and guidance as they walk this new path.
Kids will continue to react to the loss of home, neighborhood, belongings, friends, regular activities and pets. Children respond to stress in ways that are unique to their age, maturity level, experiences and temperament. Some of the varied, but normal reactions are easier for adults to help their children through. Anger and frustration are a common response to stress and may be a challenge for parents. The emotions and corresponding behaviors the child exhibits are usually easily identifiable but may not be as easy to redirect. There are a number of effective techniques that adults can use to support their child.
Children look to their caregivers as models of how to navigate difficult situations. They will mirror adult emotions. Respond to your child in a firm, calm manner. Use the language and volume that you want your child to model. Be aware of your non-verbal messages. It is important that gestures and facial expressions match your verbal message.
Holly M. Arnold is Region 2 Parent Resource Center coordinator with the North Dakota State University Extension Service in Ward County.
Children use whatever means are available to gain the attention of an overwhelmed, exhausted or distracted caregiver. Sometimes the behavior of choice is negative. Respond by honoring your child's reaction, labeling the emotion and allowing a "cool down" time if needed. Finally, discuss appropriate ways to demonstrate the feelings of frustration and anger.
Help your child prepare for the next time they become frustrated or angry. Assist your child in thinking about ways to lessen anger such as listening to music, playing a sport, reading, writing or talking to someone they trust. You are helping them to learn a life-long skill.
And, of course, continue to provide encouragement and extra hugs, kisses and "I love yous." May your child's memories of these difficult days and months include lots of positive moments spent with those they love. Additional flood information is available at (www.ag.ndsu.edu/wardcountyextension).