Children obviously don’t cope with emergency situations as well as their parents. Thus it’s up to the adult to set an example in times of emergency and stress so that the child doesn’t become overwhelmed by world events.
When stressful times abound – whether due to the economy, situations in the home, and especially in times of a health crisis – parents ought to consider taking action to make sure their children don’t become stressed, depressed, or even ill.
During times of a world health crisis, it can be hard for children to understand stressful situations such as a pandemic. Children who have witnessed serious illness or death, either directly or through the media, are likely to have an increased sense of vulnerability, fear and anxiety.
Stressful situations can cause children to worry and to ask lots of questions about what is happening in the world, how it can be fixed and if the emergency is going to affect their way of life and well-being.
Coping With Stressful Situations
If adults and parent can control their emotions and cope well with a stressful situation, children will too. Calm support and guidance will ease a child’s worries and help them feel safe and secure.
To help children cope with trauma, emergencies and stress, follow these tips:
- Ask them what they know or have heard about the pandemic and encourage them to ask questions and provide honest explanations of what they understand.
- Limit the amount of television, Internet and exposure to adult conversations about the pandemic. Answer the questions they have that have come from conversations with their friends.
- When older children watch television coverage of the pandemic, watch with them and discuss what’s happening and how they feel about it.
- Let children express their feelings and concerns about a pandemic. Share your own G-rated feelings about the event and remain in control of your emotions, modeling good behavior and emotional control.
- Reassure children about what is being done to control the pandemic and what is being done to keep him or her safe.
- Maintain normalcy. Don’t change, or limit the amount of change, to a child’s daily activities.
- Give children more affection and attention, especially in times of trauma.
- When dealing with the flu pandemic, make sure children to wash their hands, cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough, and do not share food or drinks.
Signs That Kids Are Having A Difficult Time Coping With Stress
Kids may show signs that they are having difficulty coping with stress. Parents should watch for any unusual behaviors such as the following to help their children cope with stress:
- Neediness, separation anxiety, irritability, jumpiness, sadness, worry, listlessness;
- Poor concentration, exaggeration, blaming, pouting, short attention span, obsessive and intense play;
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, depression, withdrawal, trouble getting along with others, defiance or other behavioral problems; and
- Physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, hair loss, increased heartbeat, stomach aches, changes in appetite, nightmares, difficulty sleeping, sleeping too much, changes in school performance or changes in activity levels.
How to Cope With a Fibromyalgia Flare
On bad days, people living with Fibromyalgia describe their pain as tender, shooting, numbing, tingling, burning, throbbing and unbearable. Coping with Fibromyalgia on a bad pain day or ‘flare up’ can be stressful. The following tips can help those in a flare deal with their chronic pain and hopefully, lessen the stress of a bad pain day.
Know Your Triggers
If you have fibromyalgia, chances are you know what makes it worse. The first tip to dealing with your chronic pain is to avoid the triggers that make your pain worse. This isn’t always possible, but when dealing with the chronic pain of fibromyalgia, avoiding the bad days at all costs is the key to coping. Try the following tips to help avoid the bad days.
- Avoid Stress: This is a hard one. But stress and excitement can cause flare ups for those with fibromyalgia. The best way to avoid stress is to try and cut it off at the path. Learn to say no once in awhile to invitations so you don’t overbook yourself. Take some time for you each day. Avoid jobs that involve stressful deadlines.
- Practice Pacing. When you have a chronic pain condition, you have to take things slow. Sometimes this is frustrating. But flares often come up in fibromyalgia when, on a good day, a person decides to run several errands, clean the entire house, or exercise heavily. Instead, try to keep your routine even. Clean one room in your house at a time. Stop and rest every few minutes between activities. And have a set exercise routine that you follow on good days and bad pain days.
- Coping with Pain
- On a bad pain day the only thing you want to do is crawl under your sheets. Unfortunately, kids, errands, work and even pets can keep this from happening. Still there are some things you can do to deal with a chronic pain flareup.
- Take Inventory. On bad pain days it is easy to get overwhelmed by your pain. Take a good half an hour to evaluate where you hurt and how much. Use pain scales to evaluate how much pain you are in and what type of pain you are in. In the article, “The Purposes of Pain Scales” by Rhonda B. Graham of InteliHealth, “Pain scales are tools that can help your doctor diagnose or measure your pain’s intensity.” Evaluating your own pain levels can help you understand how best to cope with your fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Evaluate Options. Think about the resources you have on hand to deal with your pain. If your pain is lower on the pain scale, what alternative or non-drug therapies might help? Do you need to book an appointment for a message? Take a warm bath? Lay down for an hour or two? Talk an easy walk around the block? If your pain is higher on the scale, which non-drug or drug therapies work for you? Do you need to call your doctor for refills? What might you need to make you feel better? Gather your favorite symptom relief remedies and put them in one place for easy access. Make sure it is light in case you want to move it around the house with you.
- Prioritize.With chronic pain it is easy to throw away an entire day. Instead, focus on the items on your to-do list that you can accomplish. This will keep your stress from piling up, can keep pain from the forefront of your thoughts and you may even feel better having accomplished something for the day. For instance, if you had an important work meeting, can you arrange your day to make the meeting, but to skip everything else? For chores, maybe you can’t clean the whole house, but can you load the dishwasher, taking small breaks in between to rest? If you are at a high pain level and staying camped out on the couch or in bed is your only option–can you work on a project from your computer or do light exercises from your couch?
- Call for Help. Sometimes, pain is too intense to think away. When this happens it is best to have a list of numbers on hand to call in extra resources. Make sure you have a variety of numbers on hand so you aren’t calling the same person all the time. Numbers that should be on your list include family, close friends, your doctor(s), babysitter, dog walker, and friends from a fibromyalgia support group. If you pain level gets very intense or you suddenly worsen, make sure you have the number to your local emergency room and any other emergency services on hand.
Dealing with Fibromyalgia Flares
The key to overcoming a bad pain day is to avoid them. Be aware of your triggers and try not to take on too much in a day. But when a flare happens take steps to minimize the damage it will do to your schedule and your life. Make a special fibromyalgia emergency kit and fill it with all the items that relieve symptoms. Don’t throw your day away because of chronic pain. Accomplish what you can and reschedule what you can’t. Keep a list handy of support people who can take over for you when you can’t. And, if your pain is unusual for you or you suddenly worsen, call your doctor for advice or go to the emergency room right away.