Date : November 7, 2021
Resilience in Kids: How to Keep Little Chins Up
From academic success to their social skills, resilience and mental health, the global pandemic is a crisis for today’s children. We don’t yet know exactly how the isolation and overwhelming disruption will affect their overall development in the future. So, for now, how do you as parents help them cope with all the disappointments and upheaval they’ve been experiencing over the past 18 months? Read on to find out more about how the global pandemic has affected our children, and how you can help them develop resilience in the face of disappointment.
What changes and disappointments have children had to deal with?
When disruption to their education is combined with other stresses attributed to living in lockdown and isolation, children are displaying differing levels of distress. On average, children living through this pandemic are contacting their friends less, staying home more, being less active and going outside less, spending more time on devices, and are developing irregular and unhealthy sleeping and eating habits. As a parent, this can be very upsetting, especially when you feel like there’s nothing you can do. When sleepovers are a no-go, and visits from family members who live interstate are cancelled, it can feel like there’s nothing to look forward to. All this can lead to a very disappointed child. How can you as a parent possibly help combat these disappointments and help boost their resilience?
How do I help my child cope with disappointment?
When it comes to living during a pandemic, disappointment is pretty much the name of the game. Just about everything your child loves to do has been cancelled – playing sport, having sleepovers with their friends, going on holidays, having fun days out with the family at zoos or museums or the like, everything they usually look forward to throughout their school year. Their everyday routines are disrupted, and for a lot of children, they can’t even go to school like they usually would. As the pandemic continues and we go back and forth between lockdowns and reopening, disappointments and how they cope with them will vary from child to child. Fortunately, there are ways you can help.
Listen to your child and validate their feelings
As a parent, your natural instinct is to want to fix everything for your child – but you’re not a wizard. You can’t wave your hands and make the pandemic disappear. Ask your child questions to get to the root of what’s specifically bothering them. Try to avoid judgement. For a child, they only see it in terms of what they themselves are missing out on, which can be frustrating for you as a parent. Don’t tell them they’re being silly – this will only make them feel isolated. Try to empathise and reassure them.
You need to avoid false assurances – you don’t want to give your child any unrealistic expectations – but emphasise that this is only temporary. They will get to see their friends again, and their routines will eventually settle back into some sort of normal. Reassure them that there are still things to look forward to!
Seek solutions to their problems
Their birthday party might have been cancelled, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a virtual party with their friends instead! Your child might not be able to play soccer on Saturdays for her local team, but she can practise her soccer skills with a sibling or parent in the back yard. Find ways for your child to still do what they love to do but in a safe way. Remind them that everyone around the planet is in the same boat – we all have to find ways to cope.
Give them a sense of control
One of the scariest things about the pandemic is that we have no control over what happens. Work with your child to plan their day and give them back a sense of control over what happens. Ask them how they would like to spend their free time, or what projects they’d like to get stuck into. Get them involved in household activities with everyone else. Talk to them about your own coping mechanisms and ask them what might help them to cope.
Show them you have faith in them
Just like everyone else, kids have to learn to live with Coronavirus and disappointments in general– that’s the truth of it. Remind them of things that have happened in the past that they’ve overcome – missing out on being selected for a sporting team, or a prize in a competition they entered. They can use some of those skills they learned in these situations to cope. Remind them you have faith in them, so they can have faith in themselves.
May Gibbs has resources designed to brighten your child’s day – check out these fantastic books on resilience here!
Right now, Librarian Bec’s hard at work at your local library, sharing a passion for reading with little people and big. Bec writes about inspiring little readers and embracing lovely literature.