Changing TIMES

Especially for Our Children

People often say there are two guarantees in life: death and taxes. I would like to add a third to the list, namely, change. Now, there is everyday change like the weather, then serious change as in relocating the family, and then we have the mother of them all, global change, á la COVID-19.

Change is not something we humans cope with very well at the best of times, let alone when the world is tilting its axis. I’m not interested in exploring the ramifications of some of the obvious changes that are occurring around us right now; rather, I want to check in on the little ones: the children. I have often heard adults remarking:

‘The kids will be ok, children are resilient, they adapt quickly, they will get over it by the morning.”

I pose the idea that maybe kids are not as good at coping with change as we believe they are. Could it be that children don’t know how to express their fear or their concern, so it stays bottled up and we super clever adults assume that silence is acceptance and that everything is cool, when in fact it may be far from it?

Think about how difficult it is for you to sometimes voice your feelings, thoughts, and fears, and you have decades of life experience and vocabulary to draw on. Children take their ques from the world around them, and later you are a very big player in their world.

How have you been coping with the changes to your work, family, and community life? Have your kids recently been on the receiving end of your frustration with all the changes and upheaval to an already crazy world? Have you explained to them the changes in your behavior and demeanor? Have you helped them to express their fears and concerns about the changes in their world? I don’t mean putting words into their mouths. I mean being patient and giving them time to find their own words.

How you see some of the changes and how your children see and interpret them, may not be the same, and why should they be? Your children are not you.

The change affects our state of mind and generates a cascade of questions; some easily expressed and others as vague as walking through a London fog. These questions spin around in our minds demanding answers that we can understand. As you well know, answers don’t always come easily, so eventually, we are forced to look outside of our own experience and ask partners, friends, and colleagues. Ask them what?

Maybe it’s uncomfortable at first, and we can’t find the right words. Sometimes our questions are more like feelings. Regardless, we dip our toes into the water and start the conversation. The hardest step of all is always the first step. Pretty soon though, the discussion gets traction, and answers start to come to the surface.

Think about it for a minute; you didn’t necessarily know what to ask or how to ask it and you have been around for a while. What do you think is going on in your child’s mind? Maybe you could start the conversation with them and pose some of the questions that were worrying you.

Don’t force them to ask questions, because like you, they may not know what questions to ask; they just have feelings that they haven’t yet learned to translate into words. The point is to make it known that asking questions about what is going on is perfectly fine.

When they ask questions of their own accord, stop for a second and remember that you were once a child and treat them the way you would like to have been treated. Your children will be adults very soon and may not come to you with their questions and concerns, so try to give them some time now and always be truthful.

They will know if you are making things up just to put their minds at ease, and this could send them off wondering if it is worth asking you any questions at all. Importantly, don’t dismiss their difficult questions, and let them ask the same question over and over again. They are only trying to get it sorted out in their young minds. Wouldn’t you rather they ask you than somebody you don’t know?

COVID-19 is impacting everyone on a global scale. Families, businesses, communities, even cultures. Not every one of us will come out the other end the same as when we started, and that is not all bad. This is a time to self-reflect and get in touch with ourselves and the ones we love, especially our children. They need our help and understanding more than ever.

Roselyn Poon is an author, speaker, and motivator on all things to do with living younger, longer. Her latest book, “Reset Your Inner Clock and Live Younger Longer” is available on Amazon.