Extension News

Support Young Children in Stressful Times

8/25/2008

MARION, Iowa –The kids are clingy and fighting with each other. Your 4-year-old is acting like the baby and you’re still wondering if you can save your flood-damaged home.

“Children sense the imbalance of stressful times and often return to younger behavior to cope,” says Kristi Cooper, Iowa State University Extension family life specialist. “Give your children extra cuddle time and restore as much of their previous routine as possible,” suggests Cooper. “And get some much needed rest yourself.”

Young children often do not have the verbal abilities to express what they are feeling, so emotion shows up in behavior. Providing a predictable schedule and limits will help restore the child’s sense of stability and safety. One-on-one time and play time is good for both adults and children; it releases pent-up emotion and strengthens the emotional bond between family members.
 
Parents need to take care of their own physical and emotional needs during this time as well. “Arrange for someone to take care of your children while you rest, talk to a friend or go to the doctor,” Cooper advises. “Taking care of your needs right now will help your children cope better with the changing circumstances.”

For families living in different locations with extended family or even strangers, the imbalance is constant, Cooper continued. “Use the mental health, food, clothing and transportation resources available through the Red Cross, local shelters and agencies. You can help the situation by being as realistic and positive as possible. Make a ‘to-do’ list each night for the next day to keep you focused. Include daily self-care tasks as well as the steps to recovering possessions and finding resources. Keeping a ‘can do’ attitude will help you and your children bounce back.”

For more information contact Cooper at kcoop@iastate.edu or (319) 377-9839, or contact your ISU Extension county office.

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Contacts :

Kristi Cooper, ISU Extension Family Life Field Specialist, (319) 377-9839, kcoop@iastate.edu

Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775, lsternwe@iastate.edu