SAPS members monitor Queen Nandi drive in the vicinity of Briardene, Riverhorse Valley, after a scores of people looted the Game Warehouse in Durban. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)
SAPS members monitor Queen Nandi drive in the vicinity of Briardene, Riverhorse Valley, after a scores of people looted the Game Warehouse in Durban. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

How can we talk to our children about what's happening in SA?

By Opinion Time of article published Jul 14, 2021

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By Krsangi Radhe

This is a scary time in South Africa. We are fighting within a different zone – we are dealing with far more than a pandemic. Covid-19 stats have become secondary – our focus, especially in KZN, is on keeping safe, protecting our families and procuring food.

The depths of the suffering due to the #KZNShutdown and the rioting goes far beyond jobs, economy and segregation. We will also need to deal with the long-lasting impact the riots will have on our children. The emotional trauma of seeing visual of buildings on fire, civilians looting and sounds of gunshots will be deeply embedded in their thoughts.

Just over 15 months ago, we had to teach our children, through open conversation and mirroring, about coping with a pandemic. Children were faced with learning how to physically distance, hop onto a new method of teaching and learning and play ping-pong with their daily routine.

Now, as parents and caregivers, we are faced with another difficult situation, where we have to keep our children safe by keeping them physically and emotionally well.

It was just over 15 months ago that we had to teach our children, through open conversation and mirroring, about coping with a pandemic. Picture: PxFuel

Here are a few steps that can be taken immediately to help your child through times of uncertainty:

1. Talk to your child

Talking to your child about matters that are unsettling is far better than you child picking up news from other sources. In this case, they might watch news clips or hear the news on the radio. This will allow them to speculate and create assumptions in their minds, creating more fear.

Therefore, rather talk to your child. They would rather hear sensitive topics from a trusted adult than from elsewhere. This will create a far more favourable approach to this sensitive topic.

2. Unplug from news and other social media

It is easy to become consumed with breaking news and WhatsApp voice notes and messages. Over the past few days and nights, our phones have been the tool to keep us updated on what is going on within our community. We have become dependent on keeping abreast with news to keep us safe (this is an unusual time, with violence unfolding by the minute).

However, keep in mind that your child might also be listening in or watching distressing videos that are being circulated. Therefore, if you are using your phone as a tool to stay safe and in touch, then have boundaries about how much you share with your child. Often times, we unconsciously have adult conversations (quite openly) within the home – and children listen in.

Fear stems in their subconscious (from conversations and images) that they have been privy to. This can have lasting negative impact.

Therefore, be mindful of how much content you chose to share with your child. It is also important for you to take some time off news and social media. This will help you create a mind gap (to clear and give your mind some off time from negative news).

3. Create a positive home environment

Creating a positive environment within the home might be difficult right now, however, when you are more present and available for your child, you will find the energy within your home changes.

Stop consuming too many negative aspects that are going on. It is important that you balance your time and energy.

Your child picks up your energy and vibration, therefore strive to be balanced in your mood and spirit. Chose to have better days, rather than focussing on all the negative.

Focus on how you can keep safe, both physical and emotionally. Play some calming music and shift the focus.

4. A warm hug always works a charm

Reassuring your child during this time is important – remember they turn to a trusted adult for assurance, love and support. Love and care are emotions that children seek, and the best person to offer that is someone that they trust. Therefore, make yourself available – stop and offer your child time or even a hug.

Take time to talk about what is on their minds, complete an activity together (yoga, exercise, craft and so on) and allow them the space and time to also share their thoughts and feelings with you.

5. Give yourself grace

As parents and caregivers, we want to take control of the situation and keep our families safe. However, it is important to also take care of yourself during this time. Once you feel good, you will be able to be at your best for your family. Therefore, if you need to take some time off to detox your mind and take a few minutes to yourself, then do so.

Be sure to prioritise your self-care as this is a critical part of being a good parent and a good human being. Remember, parents also feel fear and are also unsettled, so give yourself grace during this time.

It is also about you, so allow yourself space to do things that make you feel better.

With all the negativity that is going on in South Africa, we can focus on love. This will help pull us through this dark times and raise resilient children.

The sad part of it all is that our children have had to deal with the adjustment of living during a pandemic and now during a civil unrest. We cannot change that but we can change our parenting strategy to raise strong, resilient and loving human beings.

Krsangi Radhe is the founder of Sankalpa Coaching. She is an NLP practitioner, mindset coach helping women, children and couples and time-line therapist. She is an educator and motivational speaker. You may reach her at [email protected] www.sankalpacoaching.co.za

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