No matter how organized you are and how much you’ve planned the day, you can’t control everything and everyone. Something always happens that you didn’t expect; sometimes, it’s a small thing other times it turns your world upside down. People, adults, and children need to deal with uncertainty daily; it’s part of life, and it won’t go away.
Kids need skills to deal with uncertainty, especially in the fast-paced world they live in. Surely with all the information at their fingertips, they should know how to cope with change? They don’t, and they need adults to teach them how.
You would think that with generations of humanity’s adaption from hunting and gathering, to space travel, we should be ready for the unexpected. It seems, however, that we are hardwired to dislike the unknown or any changes—even predictable changes.
Uncertainty is not going away, and you can’t control it. How your child deals with uncertainty, however, is something they can control, provided you teach them how.
How To Teach Children to Effectively Deal With Uncertainty
Your child won’t be able to avoid daily uncertainty, no matter how much you wrap them in a bubble. Here are some tips on how to teach your child to deal with the risk that life brings.
Acknowledge Uncertainty of Life
Possible the only two things that are certain in life are birth and death; the rest in between is uncertain. Explain to your child that uncertainty isn’t something to fear but part of life and that they have a choice of how you want to deal with uncertainty. By accepting it, they can decide how to deal with it.
Be An Example for your Kid
Kids mimic and follow adult behavior. They watch and see how you, as a parent or teacher, deal with situations. Demonstrate behavior that projects confidence and being in control when uncertainty strikes, may motivate your child to understand that, although the risk doesn’t disappear, they can conquer it and overcome it.
Remember Previous Victories
Uncertainty happens all the time. Therefore, every person alive has been victorious over the uncertainty that occurred in their past. When your child grasps the revelation that they have been victorious before, it may give them hope and inspiration to conquer the day. Remind your child of uncertainties that had happened in the past, which they had overcome.
Don’t Dwell, Move Forward
Teach your child not to dwell on things they can’t control. Worry, fear, and anxiety won’t change the inevitable, but it will cause stress by focusing on the negative. It’s going to happen; they might as well move forward and face it. If they don’t think about it, they can’t increase their anxiety levels. A calm and peaceful mindset is the best ammunition to fight the uncertainty.
For example, if it’s the first day at a new school, tears, tantrums, and fear won’t change the fact the child needs to go to school. Remind the child that the first day in Kindergarten or Elementary School was also uncertain, but they survived and made new friends. A calm and positive attitude, however, may allow the child to make new friends quickly and to adapt easily.
Limit Media Exposure
Our eyes and ears are gates to the soul. What your child watches on television, sees on the news, and social media affects them. If they are bombarded with negative and scary news, they will become fearful, uncertain, and negative.
Unfortunately, most news is tilted towards the negative. You, as the parent, can limit and control what your child watches on television. Just because ratings for shock and awe news programs are higher doesn’t mean you need to subject your child to them.
Slow Down Before Bedtime
If your child watches a scary movie or negative news before they go to bed, it may cause anxiety and even nightmares. By avoiding screen time an hour before they go to bed, you can prevent unnecessary stress that keeps your child awake. Read stories to them or spend time with them, creating a relaxing atmosphere before bedtime.
Have Routines and Rituals
Morning and evening routines create habits that not only improves productivity but provides a sense of security. By starting the day with a routine, your child knows what to expect, and they start the day confidently.
Rituals throughout the day may be a safety mechanism your child could hold onto when trying to cope with uncertainty. For example, knowing that you will be waiting for them at the gate after school may give them the emotional stability to cope with the uncertainty that happened in the classroom. They know that you will be there to hear their stories and to motivate them. Even the smile in the rear mirror may assure them that the day ahead will be okay.
Focus on Someone Else
When worrying about the uncertainty, your child is focused on their problem, and the world around them disappears. Teach your child by example to swing the focus to someone else. Play games of purposefully texting a friend with a compliment, smiling at someone, or thanking a stranger. By turning the attention to someone else, they momentarily forget their distress and receive positive input by doing something good.
Discover the Treasure
Let your child imagine the uncertainty is like a treasure hunt; you never know what treasure you are going to discover. Instead of focusing on the negative, have them name at least three to five positive outcomes of the uncertainty. Be creative with the most outlandish to the most realistic.
Helping Kids Coping With Uncertainty
The fact that the American Psychological Association has been running surveys on stress since 2007 shows that stress is a concern and is part of society. Uncertainty is one of the factors that create fear and stress. Kids who can’t cope with uncertainty may cause additional fear, anxiety, and stress.
- As a parent, you can teach your child to cope with uncertainty by controlling their emotions, thoughts, and actions.
- A positive attitude and thought pattern may counter the fear of the unknown.
- Talk it through with your child. Let them verbalize the uncertainty and what they fear. By hearing themselves talk, they may place the issue in context and reduce the enormity of the situation to a more realistic image.
- Another way of coping with uncertainty is to help your child realize that the fears of what may happen are often greater than the worst scenario that does happen. Connect the fear with an outlandish description like a mouse with a microphone trying to draw the elephant’s attention. Their fear created an elephant, but the actual outcome was the mouse with the microphone. Whenever they are uncertain, they should remind themselves of the mouse with a microphone.
Kids Don’t Have To Fear Uncertainty
As much as breathing is part of a human being, it is the reality that each day has its uncertainties we must cope with. From the moment a baby is born, they are exposed to risk—and they thrive. Kids don’t have to fear uncertainty; they coped as babies, surely they can deal with uncertainties as a child, a teenager, and later as an adult.
Parents can help kids overcome their fears and anxieties by teaching them how to handle uncertainties. The greatest secret is that uncertainty is what makes life exciting. Wonderful surprises like a surprise birthday party are wrapped in the word “uncertainty.” Discovering new worlds happened because of challenging uncertainty. What kind of surprises are hidden, ready to be uncovered, in your child’s day of uncertainty?