Life can be difficult at times and when there are difficult conversations to be had, you may feel at a loss on what to say or how to say it. Whether it’s talking to your kids about a family member being sick, someone losing an important job, or there is a divorce on the horizon, its best to work together with your nanny to help your kids process emotions and come out well at the end of the situation. Here are some tips on how nannies and parents can work together in difficult times.
Tip #1: Talk in terms that your kids understand.
Topics such as illness, death, or divorce can be life-changing events for kids, no matter how young or old they are. The important part to remember is that you should figure out a way to explain the situation to your children in terms that they understand emotionally and developmentally. For example, if you have a small child and someone close to them is very ill, you likely don’t need to go into every detail about the illness, but instead, you can talk in more generic terms, whereas if the child is older, they will probably ask more detailed questions and you will need to explain more. No matter which method is right for you, be sure you and your caregiver are on the same way on how to explain the situation to the kids. If one of you is providing more details than the other, this may cause confusion or frustration for the children.
Tip #2: Stay positive.
Kids look to you for support and if you can find the bright spot even in a dark time, it will help them learn to keep a positive attitude, too. Help them find the good in the situation, whether it’s talking fondly about memories they have, or something else. Keeping a positive (yet realistic) outlook will help them through the process and will hopefully bring smiles along the way.
Tip #3: Help them process their emotions.
Big life changes or difficult situations can bring lots of emotions up for kids and adults alike. Work with your nanny to find ways for your kids to work through their emotions. Whether it’s drawing, talking things out, singing, or simply holding them close while they cry, be on the same page with your caregiver on how they can support your kids during difficult circumstances.
Tip #4: Focus on the children
Many times children turn to another trusted adult besides the parents to help them process difficult situations. This is particularly true when the situation directly involves the parents such as a divorce. Do have frank conversations between the three adults to provide guidance to the nanny. Recognize how fortunate your child is to have another loving adult to confide in, and resist anger or jealousy.
Tip #5: Acknowledge Pain and Help Build Resilience
Parents and nannies can help children build resilience and navigate through painful times. To the extent possible, do allow the child to feel and recognize their pain in the safety of a loving, emotionally supportive environment. Help them acknowledge their pain or fears, and work together with the child to practice coping and problem solving skills. Ask questions and brainstorm solutions or ways to manage the uncertainty. Resist the impulse to swoop in and fix things yourself.
No matter how hard the situation is, be sure to stay on top of communication and let your kids know how important they are to you and how you will be there for them. This will help give them a safe place to understand what they are feeling.