Helena Mooney

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In the face of the terrifying fires in Australia, and other scary events around the world, it can be hard to know how to best help your child with their feelings of fear, sadness or anxiety.

So this episode gives you practical ways to help build your child’s resilience, confidence & optimism.

1. Seek the Support You Need

You can’t effectively help your children with their feelings if you don’t address your upset feelings.  The bush fires have been terrifying for children & adults alike, so your feelings matter.  The more you can work through your emotions, the better position you’ll be in to help your child with theirs.

2. Listen & Offer Empathy

If your child wants to talk about how they’re feeling and what they’ve experienced, fantastic.  Allow them to talk freely about whatever is bothering them.  Don’t distract them because you’re worried that what they’re saying is too upsetting.  If they’re saying it, they’re thinking it.  The more they can talk with you, the more they can work through them and offload them – the better.

If your child doesn’t want to talk, notice how they behave.  Behaviour is driven by emotions, so their behaviour is a very clear sign of how they are feeling.  

Again, listen when your child is upset – about anything, even seemingly silly things – offer empathy and allow the feelings to flow.  If they’re crying about something unrelated, they’re still releasing upset feelings about the fires / disaster.

You may need to move in with a loving limit if they’re becoming aggressive or challenging.  Again, listen to the upset feelings – they’re releasing with you.

3. PLAY!

Simple games will help to release tension through laughter, offset feelings of powerlessness, aid reconnection with you and are a great gateway into your child’s emotions.  

So bring power-reversal games such as chasing games, silly games such as toothbrush games.  Find those moments to bring play where you can.

4. Do Something Practical Together

Another great way to counter feelings of powerlessness is to actually do something.  Depending on the age of your child, you could knit koala mittens, sew a possum pouch, make a card for the firefighters, etc, etc.  Doesn’t have to be big, but the act of creating it is powerful for you & your child, and the act of receiving it is powerful for the animals & people.

5. “Notice the Helpers”

As Fred Rogers famously said, in times of disaster, notice the helpers.  It’s important our children feel optimistic again, so one of the best ways to do this is to notice all the amazing people doing incredible work.  

So depending on how much you have been personally impacted by the fires / disaster, hopefully you’ve found some strategies to help your children with their feelings and to help them to feel optimistic & confident again.

If you need further support, please reach out.  

And to those of you directly affected by the fires, I’m sending you lots of love.  xx