When Election Anxiety Stresses Out Your Children Be the Calm in the Storm
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The stress of the 2020 election has filtered down to children and adolescents. Many adults are keyed up and concerned about results in either direction. Since we are already reeling from COVID-19 and ongoing concerns about our health and the health of our families, many people do not have any more coping capacity left. Their bandwidth is full.
During this election week, let’s all remember that we have gotten through so much this year and we can weather this as well, if we all band together. We can agree on many things: We want our families to be healthy, safe and provided for; We want to feel secure and safe in our homes; And, we want to be treated fairly and kindly by others.
Even though right now the focus seems to be on our differences, we still have so much in common. Stating our differences creates an opportunity to understand other perspectives and hear people out. Treating everyone with kindness is where it all should start.
As a parent try to watch out for signs of anxiety in your child or adolescents that might indicate that they are having trouble coping. These signs might include: inability to sleep, worry, stomach aches, cranky behavior, tantrums, crying and trouble focusing. Talk to your child openly about how they feel, recognizing that discussing fear and worry often helps relieve distress. If you notice that their tantrums increase or they can't seem to get out the door for school, you should consider having them see someone for an assessment and help develop coping mechanisms.
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I ask my clients to keep a worry book. In the book, they write down what is on their mind daily. Later we go through it together and often notice that what they worry about often does not happen. Then we work on relaxing and breathing techniques to help calm down. For the younger kids, we often draw what we are afraid of and then tell a story about it, changing the story to a more positive outcome as we work through issues.
When your anxiety as a parent gets more manageable, it will filter down to your family. Here are a few coping strategies:
- Make a list of all the things you have gotten through in the past, so you can remind yourself that you always manage. Remind your family of the same thing
- Find things to be grateful for every day
- Take walks and enjoy the outdoors. Look around you and notice the change of the seasons
- Remind yourself daily that you can do this and things will be ok
- Affirm every day that your intent is to be strong, kind and compassionate
Talk to your family. Help them understand that no matter the outcome of the election, we will all be OK. We have each other and our supportive friends and families. We can all get through this together, as we always have. When there is a crisis, this country has a history of banding together for the greater good of all. Start in your home to see what you can do to help others in your area so you can feel a part of the community. Focus on kindness and community and understanding. Be the calm in the storm.