Skip to content

Tangled- Parents as First Responders

Sticks and stones have been replaced with clicks and phones.

shutterstock_113919517 Parent InvolvementWelcome back to my 5 part series on Parent Involvement called Tangled! (Previous posts in series here). In this final post of the series, I’ll address our parental role as crisis counselor.

Concerned about child abductions, cyber bullying, gangs, and mind altering substances– today parents are concerned. Rightly so.

The playground has gotten bigger….and it’s all inclusive. The internet is a web that entices and captures. The lure of social media satisfies two human needs: curiosity and belonging. Kids still want the very same thing we wanted on the jungle gym. A bar to grab and a place to hang.

The goals haven’t changed only the methods to achieve them.

Awareness can be the ticket to despair.  Social media can be the glue that binds or a pie in the face.  A relentless slideshow of images, tweets and videos viewed by many as evidence of the green grass elsewhere.

Parents are first responders. Like soldiers in foreign lands, we don’t always know who the enemy is or when the next drama bomb will go off.

All parents need to learn CPR:  Care. Protect. Respond.  Here’s some tips to help comfort and guide your children during crisis.

CARE

shutterstock_122642203 Sad girl

Take your children’s serious distress seriously.

Show sympathy based on how the child feels not on how you think they should feel. Feelings of rejection, anxiety, and anger can turn serious. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death of youth ages 10 to 24. (Alarming stats here).  Teach coping mechanisms in the home to avoid pursuit of destructive methods of stress relief shared on the all inclusive “playground”.

Learn your child’s triggers and thresholds.

Is your child a “go with the flow” kinda kid or a drama queen? “It’s no big deal” and “Everything’s fine” are not reliable testimony. Check in with the queen of drama during neutral times when it’s easier to gauge fact from fiction. Look for “pop ups”- those new behaviors or associations that are outside their norm.

Kids can be moody and mouthy one minute and charming and helpful the next. Don’t count on others to notice if something’s wrong.

Attention is the most critical aspect of caring.

Giving neutral attention to your child is the best relationship building strategy. Neither positive or negative, simply being there to listen to their favorite song, hear about the latest trend, take a walk or cook a meal together. Or just plop down on their bed and wait for a response. Your quiet presence or random conversation is a welcome relief to teens. You don’t want anything and they aren’t in trouble.

PROTECT

Any child who is bullied requires direct or indirect help from a parent.

Bullies test the waters quickly, eye their victims, and escalate cruelty. Empower your child to teach others how to treat them. If your child is being bullied, be his ally. Co-pilot the situation until it is resolved.

The most underreported bullying occurs right under our noses. Sibling abuse is a serious problem, often ignored and dismissed by parents. Adopt a zero tolerance policy.

Do not aim to be the “cool” parent.

Parents who want to be seen as “cool” by their children’s peers allow alcohol in their home, bend rules that weren’t in place anyway, and feel validated because kids want to hang out at their house.

It is a parent’s job to set boundaries and provide a safe haven. If your claim to fame is the coolest mom or dad on the block, I’d be concerned if you were providing either.

The best reward is freedom at any age.

Don’t let your own anxiety stifle well deserved freedom. Overprotective parents don’t let their children use wings they’ve earned. This can cause even the most gracious teenager to rebel.

Freedom is leverage. But you have to give it to use it.

RESPOND

shutterstock_28466182 Mother Daughter at Computer

Your reactions are “on the spot” life lessons.

We pass down patterns of reactions through generations. Our family of origin becomes a blueprint. We’re not born with short tempers, we learn them. How we respond to unfairness, failure, and even grief, imprints on our kids. Since life is a bed of roses, we must model how to react to the thorns.

First acknowledge your child’s feelings.

They have a right to feel what they feel. If you couldn’t stand the guy that just broke your daughter’s heart, it’s best to say, “I know he meant a lot to you.” As opposed to “He didn’t deserve you and you’re better off without him.”

React as an adult.

You can show sympathy without reacting in the same manner as your child. If your child is angry or hurt because she wasn’t invited to a party, it doesn’t help to mirror her response. Don’t fuel the fire. Acknowledge it’s there and subdue the flames.

Offer guidance and perspective.

The best cure for crisis is competence.

True if you’re having a heart attack, you’re overspent on your credit cards, or your child is dateless for the prom. When you’re out of control, you want someone around you who is in control.

Be that rock for your children even if you aren’t sure of the answer or don’t have the perfect words of wisdom at the tip of your tongue. Don’t hesitate to say calmly, “I’m not sure of the solution yet but I am sure we’ll figure it out.”

***

We can kiss our toddler’s boo-boo when he scrapes his knee. But we can’t be our daughter’s date to the dance. Kick the field goal or reverse a callous tweet.

As a first responder, we need to be ready to provide esteem saving CPR at a moments notice. No need to hover, overprotect, or control. Just remain in their orbit. Ready and willing to lend experience, bestow faith, and shine light on darkness.

Calmly spoken, “Everything is going to be ok,” is the best bandage and words your children will never outgrow.

 

"When I was a kid, my parents moved a lot, but I always found them." Rodney Dangerfield

 

Subscribe to FITskitz!

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. DonnaK #

    Right on! How we live our lives as parents is what our child becomes when he-she is a parent. And knowing how to act as a parent (rather than a friend) is one lesson that most do not take seriously. We must listen rather than react; we must trust rather than doubt after learning the facts and stand firmly behind them; and most of all your last sentence is right on point. (quote) Calmly spoken, “Everything is going to be ok,” is the best bandage and words your children will never outgrow.(unquote) And believe me, when we find ourselves beyond the age of 65-70 and the scene is reversed, having an adult son put his arm around you, perhaps at a funeral, and say, “Mom—it’s okay,” one knows another generation is in good health.

    April 26, 2013
  2. Mark L. Willens #

    Dear Ms. Skitz,

    Excellent piece with great advice for most parents. I’ve had to learn that some times you just have to let your child vent, even if you have specific advice to give them. That can come later when the “problem” isn’t so fresh and emotions high.

    Do you have advice for those unlucky parents (or parent) who unfortunately are experiencing out-of-control, or beyond parental control children?

    May 8, 2013
  3. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital to
    assert that I get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Anyway I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access
    consistently rapidly.

    June 18, 2013
  4. Hi there, I would like to subscribe for this web site to get
    latest updates, therefore where can i do it please help out.

    June 19, 2013
    • fitskitz

      Islandia- click on the green envelope at the bottom of any post or at the top right of home page to subscribe. Thanks for visiting!

      June 26, 2013
  5. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have really enjoyed surfing around
    your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your rss feed and
    I hope you write again very soon!

    June 19, 2013
  6. I every time spent my half an hour to read this weblog’s content everyday along with a cup of coffee.

    June 20, 2013
  7. There’s certainly a great deal to learn about this issue. I like all of the points you made.

    July 1, 2013
  8. Its like you read my thoughts! You appear to grasp so much
    about this, like you wrote the ebook in it or something.
    I feel that you just could do with a few p.
    c. to power the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is fantastic blog.

    A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.

    August 6, 2013
  9. It’s in fact very complicated in this busy life to listen news on TV, thus I only use internet
    for that purpose, and take the hottest news.

    April 14, 2014
    • That’s an inlgitleent answer to a difficult question xxx

      July 20, 2016
  10. Ava #

    I have been told to go and open a WordPress blog account to make web mini sites web presence and I am wanting to know if you have better ideas or simply more ideas? Advise for WordPress would be great as well!.

    April 26, 2014
  11. Hello, i believe that i noticed you visited my web site thus i got here to return the choose?.I am trying to to
    find issues to improve my web site!I guess its adequate to make use of some of your ideas!!

    May 5, 2014
  12. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

    In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

    July 2, 2014
  13. Thus last year, their North American tour was framed by two benefit concerts: one for the renovation of the organ of the parish church in Aurach, Austria, the other for Lebenshilfe Worms, a facility for people with special needs in Worms, Germany.
    But now that she is ‘not the youngest one on the stage,’ the great German violinist
    has become a mentor to a new generation of gifted young players.
    Mutter even played ‘a few notes’ on the Guarneri of the
    legendary Fritz Kreisler, ‘a thrilling moment,’ she said, because she
    could ‘feel the personality of this wonderful Austrian violinist in it.

    October 21, 2015

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published or shared.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS