Cultivating Resilience In Children During Coronavirus
At this morning’s Coffee with the Counselor, we talked about ways to cultivate resilience in young people–at any time–but especially as we all adjust to a new normal. We talked about things like:
1. The importance of CONNECTION with family members and loved ones. Kids who feel safe, supported, and connected to others are best positioned to cope with stress.
2. Though the spread of a pandemic virus is largely out of an individual person’s hands, young people benefit from feeling a realistic sense of CONTROL over their lives. Encourage kids to control what they can–thorough hand-washing, staying at home, managing their school work, and being kind to others.
3. Instilling COMPETENCE & CONFIDENCE. As kids encounter new online learning methods, caregivers should allow them to figure some things out on their own. Experiencing manageable struggles builds a child’s sense of competence that they have what it takes to handle stress and confidence in their independent problem-solving. Parents, stand back instead of jumping in to help right away! Affirm kids with statements like, “It was great to see how you figured that out!”
4. I’m a big fan of kids developing responsibility through chores; as luck would have it, giving kids the sense that they CONTRIBUTE to a household and/or to a cause greater than themselves is a great way to build resilience. Create opportunities for kids to contribute to the household in meaningful ways to give them greater purpose.
5. I’m running out of words that begin with the letter “C” but I still want to mention that resilience is also cultivated by helping kids develop healthy thought patterns. While our brains tend to jump toward “worst case scenarios” and negative ways of thinking about things like pandemics and stay-at-home orders, parents have a huge role to play in reality checking their kids’ way of thinking. So, for example, if you hear your child say something like, “We’re stuck at home,” you can gently re-frame this negative thought into a positive one by saying something like, “I’m grateful that we’re safe at home together.” Likewise, if a young person hears on the news that over one million people have contracted COVID-19, it can be helpful to add, “Did you know that over 100,000 people worldwide have already made a complete recovery from the virus?” Kids who have the ability to keep their thoughts realistic (rather than catastrophic) and optimistic (instead of pessimistic) show greater resilience in the face of stress.
Stay healthy, safe & well, everyone!