Helping children and adults to cope with difficult events
Residents and visitors to North Kensington area are experiencing a terrible situation in many aspects. Many will be affected directly, and a lot of others will be affected indirectly.
I am hopeful that the council will provide the best service available to those affected directly. The purpose of this document is to provide some guidance to those exposed to the situation but not directly affected.
Whatever happens in the next hours and days, the children and adults in the area will be exposed to very painful emotions. It is important to remember that, after the main event, people will have a regular reminder of it in the form of police, builders or the simple sight of the building.
After researching on these situations, I have put together a few simple ideas. You can see the link to some of the articles I have used for inspiration at the end of the article.
1- Talk or Don’t Talk. It’s an individual decision. Respect other’s decision and ask them to respect yours.
While for some people talking about the event has a healing effect, for others they could feel it is like re-living it constantly and this can create further stress.
Feel free to say if you don’t want to talk about the event or if you need talking about it.
If a child or adult wants to talk about it, just be mindful of the amount of time (attention, energy) dedicated to this conversation. If it’s becoming too much, it is time to divert the attention to other things.
If a child doesn’t want to talk about the event, let it be but monitor their behaviour and patterns. Look for signs of worry, any spontaneous and unusual outburst of tears or temper, changes of eating or sleeping patterns. If any of these happen, it is time to have a conversation or ask for help.
2- Stay connected with your support network (e.g. family, friends).
Make an effort to maintain a healthy social environment around you. A variety of activities, groups and locations can be a good option.
If possible, try to maintain as much of your normal routine as you can. Be aware of your emotions and feel free to give yourself breaks and time to stop and think if needed.
3- Take action
Volunteer or support in any way can have a very empowering effect. The work could, or could not, be related to the event.
Join or create a group with a clear task will help focus effort and sense of community. Anything is better than nothing, taking food or clothes to shelters, raise money or help with other tasks. All will contribute to getting a sense of focus and purpose.
4- Get moving
Encourage children and adults to move physically; it can be through exercising or long walks.
If exercising alone, focus on attention on how your body is responding to the exercise. Keep your eyes focused in narrow areas (one tree at the end of the walk).
If exercising in a group, be aware and respectful of everybody’s emotions.
5- Self-regulate your emotions
Small things can trigger powerful emotions. Another time the feelings slowly build up over time. Be aware of how you and the people around you might be feeling.
Use conscious breathing, slow and deep, in through the nose, out through the mouth for a few minutes. Focus your attention, when you are breathing, on in a single item in the room.
Make an effort to speak slowly and calmly. This will have a significant effect on you and the people around you. Use your voice to convey a message of calm to yourself and others.
6- If in doubt, ask
There are a lot of great websites and services that can help you and your children. Don’t hesitate to contact them for advice.
Whatever ideas your collect, ensure they feel suitable to you, your children and your loved ones. If they feel too demanding, make them accessible or the reduce the activity or the length of it. Evey person is unique, let your feelings guide you through what is right for you.
Here are the best two links to advice that I have found.