When someone close to you dies, a relationship ends, illness strikes—parenting can feel like you’ve just been hit by a boulder. We don’t have much attention, if any at all, for a little one who wets the bed, won’t eat his dinner, or won’t share with her little sister. And certainly, crying, whining, screaming, and back talk become unbearable.

However, connection is what our children need to get through these really tough times…it’s also what we need with other adults. So here are a few things to remember:

  • If you can muster up some special time with your child—try it for 3-5 minutes. It might seem like a tiny bit, but it’s better than nothing. And sometimes this distraction can improve your mood if you’re not too distracted yourself.
  • Make meals super simple. Cut up some vegetables and make sandwiches or even pancakes for dinner one night. Or ask another family member or friends to bring food.
  • Get support for yourself! Find a good listener to grieve with or tell the story of what happened.It’s vital that we find a listening partner or someone to support us in this difficult time so that we can offload our stress, pain, or grief. Often when you are deeply distracted by the pain of the event, getting support from someone outside of the family can make your time with your children a little less stressful.
  • If your child is upset and you can’t listen when they need you, let them know, remove yourself from the situation and take a break.
  • Your children will survive the crisis. They’ll be OK if you’re extra irritable when it feels like your world is falling apart. Using the listening tools on a regular basis help children (and parents) develop empathy, resilience, and trust that hard times won’t last forever.