Help Your Preschooler Deal with Family Stress and Drought
The drought affects many families emotionally and financially. It's important to remember that preschoolers know something is wrong but cannot understand the full effects of the drought on the family. Preschoolers need loving reassurance and support. They have little control over their lives and are too young to use adult problem-solving skills to work through situations.
Stressful situations for preschoolers include:
- adult conversation about the drought
- parents stress about the drought and finances
- parent / short temper due to heat and stress
- being separated from a parent
- being disciplined
- worry that they will be deserted or starve
- the unknown
You will know that your preschool child is suffering from too much stress if he/ she:
- has less energy than normal
- is more irritable
- has night terrors or nightmares
- has more frequent temper tantrums
- becomes more clinging or demanding
- is crying more than usual
What can you do?
It is up to you to recognize warning signs of stress and to help your child through the difficulty.
- Help your child understand the situation. Explain what is going on in simple, reassuring language.
- Encourage your child to talk about his fears. He needs to learn to say things like, "I'm sad because our corn doesn't have any water to grow."
- Don't tell your child that his/her fears are silly; they are very real to him/her. Ease his/her tension by offering understanding, support and plenty of affection.
- Holding and cuddling a young child will help to ease the stress.
- You can increase your child's sense of security by remaining calm during times of difficulty.
When should you seek help? When you are not successful in attempts to help your child, or when the problem is too much for you to handle, get professional help.