Helping Kids Cope in Difficult Situations

It cannot be denied that the current pandemic situation is the very definition of “trying times.” With all the uncertainty flying around, it’s easy for adults to be anxious, imagine what it must be like for our children. But, resilience and endurance are excellent traits that can be modeled to those not yet experienced in challenging life situations.  

Several of my more recent posts have been dealing with fear, and how we can ease our worried minds. Children tend to be more sensitive to what’s going on in their environment and, especially to what the adults around them are saying and feeling. Below are a few tips on engaging with children–and adults–during stressful situations.

Talk openly about your feelings and invite them to talk about theirs: Children need to know that what they’re feeling and thinking is normal and that they can lean on their elders for wisdom and support. Above all they know that they are loved and that you will get through this together.

However, if your anxiety has sent you off the rails, it would be best to talk to them when you are calmer and can be open to whatever they have to say. Get guidance, if you feel you need it or have a good friend offer you calm reassurance before engaging in a conversation with your children.

Turn the experience into an adventure: Children love adventure. One of their best qualities is to look at the world through curious, innocent eyes. This is a trait we, as adults, would do well to learn from our children.

Join them in writing, drawing, painting rocks, or making a scrapbook concerning the things they see going on around them. Ask them what they think should happen or how they could help. Make it fun. If they can’t play with their friends, maybe they can video chat with them or better yet, have them send a letter or a card like you might have done when you were younger.

The curious mind is a creative mind and a creative mind finds unique solutions to challenges!

Tell stories: Tell your children stories of challenging times that you faced when you were a kid and how you dealt with it. Invite them to tell you their stories. It’s okay if the stories are made up, all stories tell us something about ourselves.

Have them draw pictures or make a video to go along with their stories. Start a group where they can share their stories with other kids. My grandson once drew a whole story onto a rock and then regaled me for twenty minutes about what all the figures meant. It was quite an adventurous story!

Harlon’s Story Rock

Go outdoors! Fresh air, exercise, and sunshine are the best medicines. This goes for the adults, too. Take the adventure outdoors. Teach your kids to be observant. What critters or plants or rocks do they see? Have fun looking them up and identifying them.

One of the best adventures I had with my grandchildren was to have them make their own Plant ID books. We went out and gathered a few common herbs–just a few leaves and/or flowers, then pressed them between layers of newspapers. I asked them to have a conversation with the plant and see if it had anything to tell them. (Their answers were amazing!) After the plants were sufficiently dried we glued them into a scrapbook with notes on what they might be a remedy for.

Later that summer one of my grandson’s friends got stung by a bee and he said, “Here, let me get you some plantain!” He had his friend chew the leaf and press the paste onto the sting. Within minutes the pain was gone.

NOTE: There are many SAFE uses for common plants. Get a book on medicinal plant identification or go to Eat the Weeds.

Above all, teach your children the value of treating Nature with gentleness and respect.

Learn something new: Learning is an excellent diversion from stressful situations, especially hands-on learning. Teach your kids how to plant a garden (you can easily grow food in a pot), cook a meal, how to make a campfire, do the laundry, perform simple car maintenance, balance a checkbook, or any other practical life skill they may not already know. YouTube has an unlimited supply of How-To videos. Productive activities build confidence and assurance that anyone can manage during difficult times.

Create Routine: Like everyone, your family’s lives have likely already been disrupted by this pandemic. With so much of the future unknown and uncertain, routine helps to create comfort and reassurance, that there is something tangible we can count on. Even keeping simple things like meals and bedtimes on a regular schedule will go a long way to soothe your children’s minds. If you cant stay at home with them, let them know you’ll be checking in regularly to see how they’re doing. Perhaps a trusted neighbor or family member can also check in to see how things are going or just to chat.

Pray or Meditate: Studies have shown that prayer and meditation are wonderful practices to calm and soothe. Anyone who regularly engages in these practices can verify these findings. Simple mindfulness can steer the mind away from anxious thoughts and toward inner peace. Trusting in a power greater than ourselves teaches us to let go of things we annot control and lean into quiet acceptance. When the mind is calm, we can more clearly hear our inner wisdom and know the right thing to do and the right time to do it.

These are just a few suggestions to keep your children engaged, relaxed, and open to possibilities. I’d love to hear your ideas.

Blessings and Prayers for Peace,

Melody

What Our Response to COVID-19 Tells Us

There is no such thing as coincidence. I believe that every experience reflects clues to its origin and the answers to any challenges that arise from this experience. With this in mind, it’s interesting to note a few curious elements of the Coronavirus pandemic. Firstly, one of most serious concerns in acquiring COVID-19, is its effect on the lungs and the immune system. Another curious phenomenon is the practice of hoarding, and primarily the things being hoarded, i.e.: toilet paper, disinfectants, and cleaning products.

In Five Element medicine, each season is represented by a fundamental element, a core emotion, and two governing organ systems, along with other qualities and biological systems and organs. Interestingly, the lungs and the colon–the body’s major organs associated with purification and elimination–are the organ systems associated with the season of Fall. It’s also noteworthy that the immune system is one of the bodily systems associated with this season.

Fall is also the season when we learn to fully grieve. The core emotion of grief creates an emotional resonance resulting from the willing or unwilling letting go of something or someone we have deeply valued.

Imbalances in Fall often show up as the inability to let go and a diminished capacity to discern what is of value from that which is no longer needed. As a result, we may end up hanging onto relationships, habits, food, clothes, cars, or paperwork, long after they’re useful or functional. When our ability to let go becomes thwarted, spiritual, emotional, and physical debris back up, creating both internal and external pollution. We soon become covered in the psychic dung of our unprocessed misery, creating toxicity on all levels.

Failing to tend to our losses creates an inability to trust in a future season of abundance. An imbalance during this, the season of deep meaning and value, can cause us to confuse quantity with quality. Though we may have homes or garages or hearts crammed with mementos, we remain unable or unwilling to let go of anything in order to make room for the new. Consequently, we may find ourselves hoarding every scrap and piece of chaff within reach. We might even take on the detritus of others, fearful we might miss out on some small bit of value.

The hoarding of anything is a sure sign of a Fall imbalance, but the run on toilet paper is just too coincidental. It is the single item most used for cleansing after our colon has done its job.

As we journey into the season of Fall we must honestly assess our imbalances and learn ways to artfully bring about balance. All the sanitization practices in the world can’t correct an imbalance in the lungs or colon. In fact, the over use of these products may cause a greater imblance. (Think: the over-prescribing of antibiotics and their part in the creation of super bugs.)

Left unattended, our imbalances in one season will eventually create an imbalance in the adjoining seasons. So, for instance, the inability to let go and grieve properly will lead to an excess of Winter’s core emotion: fear causing anxiety and uncontrolled panic where we rush about doing anything and everything to insure our survival, whether it’s rational or not. While it is important to preserve those things essential to our survival, we need to retain only what will sustain us through the lean months ahead. The excess is destined to become the spiritual, emotional, and physical compost that will feed next year’s crops.

The road through the life season of Fall leads us directly into our connection to God through divine inspiration (the spiritual attribute of the lungs).  Stay healthy. Take reasonable precautions. Keep your fears in check. With healthy and balanced emotional, spiritual, and physical practices, we will gain the strength and resilience to face the challenges life inevitably sends our way.

Blessings and Peace, Melody

The above post contains passages from my recently released book, Soul of the Seasons: Creating Balance, Resilience, & Connection By Tapping the Wisdom of the Natural World. Click Here to order.