Children’s Resilience and the Importance of Support Systems for Them
There is an innate resilience in children, a willingness to adapt and grow even under harsh conditions, but support for children of veterans and first responders is so, so important regardless.
A few weeks ago we discussed signs of distress in children and how to recognize them, and today we can take some time to talk about what to do about those signs when spotted. More importantly, we’ll talk about how to circumvent distress as much as possible.
Creating a Safe Space for Children of Veterans
While children are remarkably durable, flexible and forgiving, it is paramount that they are taken care of and know they are meant to be taken care of.
Children are natural problem-solvers, often wanting to alleviate unhappiness where they sense it, even if they can’t make sense of why it’s there in the first place.
The onus of care-taking should never fall to a child, though, and communicating with your child(ren) doesn’t require that kind of pressure on them.
You can help your child(ren) feel supportive and helpful by eliminating shame about emotions, and keeping an open, honest line of communication going, with regular check-in’s.
Making yourself a safe person for your child(ren) to go to is more than eliminating stressors where you can, and knowing the signs of distress. It’s largely about being consistent – not just in your physical presence, but your emotional availability.
You don’t need to land perfect ten’s every day, no parent can or will, but offering as much consistency as you can gives your child(ren) a good foundation upon which to build their faith.
Honesty, communication, regular check-in’s, and consistency — all of this will go such a long way in preventing distress, all while offering you genuine insights into their well-being, and offering your child(ren) something they can depend on.
Reinforcing Healthy Habits
It’s easy to applaud children for bravery and maturity, but less spoken of is applauding children for vulnerability, accessing and expressing their emotions, and acknowledging upsetting emotions.
Great shows of emotional maturity, growth, and responsibility will be exciting, but it’s important too that you not only acknowledge, but celebrate your child(ren) when they communicate needs.
Children of veterans and first responders are often humbled by an early age, accustomed to the culture of honor and duty before personal desires. Because of that very fact, it’s important to reinforce communications, as, odds are, any child of a veteran or first responder is nervous to voice a personal need when (spoken or unspoken) humility has been such a part of their upbringing.
This reinforcement can be done with a simple, “I’m so glad you came to me with this,” or, “I’m really proud of you for telling me about [x], that probably wasn’t so easy.”
Follow up those sentiments with plans that let them know they’ve been heard and there will be efforts made to meet their needs; “well, here’s what we can do about Problem A, and here’s what we can do about Problem B,” or “tell me what you’d like to do about Problem A, and we can solve this together.”
Community and Support
Sports, clubs, spiritual practices, and/or extracurricular activities will be important to maintain so that your child(ren) can access peers, friends, counsel and comfort outside of the home. If communication is suffering, you’ve noticed signs of distress that aren’t doing any better with time, or you just want to make sure you’re on the right path — make an appointment today.
Raising children takes a village, and we’re here to help in whatever capacity you or your child(ren) need.