SHIELDING CHILDREN FROM PAIN
As parents we are instinctively protective of our children; sometimes overmuch so. In fact it is very difficult to draw the line for overproctectiveness.
We are often confused about how much sheltering is good for our children. Our instincts tell us to always shield our children from unpleasantness, sickness, disease, poverty, unwholesome environment …anything which we perceive as being a threat to a child’s sense of stability and equilibrium. So when things are not pleasant we feel children are better off not knowing them. Now of course in a wide range of circumstances this may be true and children need not be exposed to unnecessary unpleasantness but sometimes when some not so nice situations become a way of life, it is best to let children face these situations along with you.
A child cannot be shielded if there a chronically sick member in the family or if a sibling is handicapped, in case of sudden death of a member or the moving away of any one parent due to any circumstance. Even if there have been major financial losses children cannot be sheltered from such realities for prolonged periods. Children of very young ages till about 6 to 7 yrs may not understand but older children quickly notice any change in the family set-up
These situations can be long drawn and a child who is confused about the changed situation at home is extremely vulnerable. The half answers that we are supplying in order to spare him the pain often make the child more baffled , nervous and insecure. and your reluctance in sharing with him will only increase his apprehensions Very young children can be pacified with doctored answers but a child who can sense the change in his surroundings but is still not given any explanations may become more confused.
Sometimes our frankness with children gives them a sense of assurance and security and tells them that as parents you are in control of the situation and will eventually tide over these adverse circumstances somehow. Children trust their parents and their sense of wellbeing is closely linked to the confidence displayed by their parents.
So if you are nursing a sick person at home, make the child aware of what is happening. For instance if your child watches you take care of sick or handicapped people at home ,he is learning a lot from you. He is becoming emotionally stronger, is learning to appreciate that families are about taking care of each other and will not lose his nerve if he is faced with such situations later in life. In times of financial stress gently explain how some of their demands cannot be met just yet but as soon as situation becomes better you will make it up to them. Just yelling at them and getting irritated to give vent to your frustration will only make them feel miserable
Sometimes it is best to let children watch you deal with trying situations as it can be a good learning experience for them and watching you handle difficult situations can teach them a lot more than anything you can tell them verbally,
Children who grow up facing difficult and trying situations are often emotionally more mature than their more sheltered counterparts they are usually better equipped to handle the ups and downs of life at a later stage
Children are extremely perceptive --they understand a lot more than we can imagine and giving them roundabout answers will only confuse them. If they feel you are hiding something they will fear the worst and become uneasy anyway. Do not underestimate their comprehension power .If they are sure that you are in control of the situation they will not only feel more comfortable in adverse situations but will also respect you for trying to handle it to the best of your ability.