Letter to parents due to the security situation in Israel today
We woke this morning to a barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip. We are all watching vigilantly after the instructions of the Home Guard as to the status of schools and workplaces.
Periods of time with security stress make us aware of feelings of unknown amongst children, as well as adults, who are feeling anxious and fearful. As parents, you are certainly busy attempting to give your children a feeling of security, explaining the situation and ever-changing reality and including and accepting their feelings and catering to their special needs.
At times like this, children and teenagers are influenced by adult reactions – that is how they understand reality. The initial hours and days are crucial to lay the foundations of efficient handling of the situation with your children. It is important to relay calm and balanced messages and to give concise age-appropriate information to the child based on their age and maturity.
Here are a few guidelines for uncertain security times:
● Paying attention and following Home Guard instructions: Adults should explain the rules to their children and teens as calmly as possible. It is important that the adults model the proper behavior and instructions. Children will feel more secure and safe if they see parents and responsible adults following the rules and doing their best to protect themselves and their children.
● Reviewing Security procedures: It is important to review the instructions for children – where are the places to go to, how to behave, how long it takes to reach the safe room, and what to do when an alarm sounds.
● Information and creating a safe reality: It is recommended that you speak simply and clearly without over-dramatization. It is important to emphasize that the army is doing its best to keep us safe.
● Keeping children busy and giving them a “role”: Find a “role” for each child to empower them. Making them responsible for something during a stressful moment strengthens them and minimizes anxiety and feeling of helplessness.
● Keeping normalcy as much as possible: It is important to encourage children to keep a normal schedule (as per Home Guard instructions). In places where school is in session, convince your child to go to school/kindergarten, and in places where schools are closed, try and create an active framework at home. Normalcy strengthens a sense of security.
● Listening and sharing: It is important that children feel that they are being listened to by other family members and friends – to talk about their feelings and experiences. Adults are invited to share their thoughts and concerns. All of this sharing should be age-appropriate and not all at once. Listening to your children and telling them they are not alone in their thoughts and feelings is important.
● Attention to overly- anxious children: Each child or adult will react differently to different situations, in strength and time. There are more sensitive children and it is important that you project a feeling of trust in their ability to deal with the situation while keeping a sharp eye on their reactions. It is important to match your reaction to the child’s needs and ask for help if you or your child needs it.
● Contact with kindergarten/school teacher: It is important to be in contact with your child’s teacher with any information which is relevant to their reactions or the emergency situation.
● Don’t be alone: If you are also experiencing an over-emotional time or you have questions/dilemmas that are more complex than what was written here, do not remain alone. Seek help from a guidance counselor or school/kindergarten psychologist or any other professional support system in your neighborhood.
With hope for quiet and calm days ahead,