7 Ways to Build Resilience in Children During COVID-19
Shape the lessons your children draw from these uncertain times.
Posted July 22, 2020 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are grappling with what the future holds. We don’t know what the new school year will bring. Parents are exhausted from juggling multiple demands. Levels of uncertainty are high. Often, we are left with more questions than answers.
Down to our core, we wish we could protect our children from the stress that comes from living during an uncertain time and from the impact social distancing takes on them. Unfortunately, these are circumstances out of our control. But we can shape the lessons they draw from this time. Here are seven ways to build resilience skills that will serve them throughout their lives:
- Model Self-Compassion. The best way to influence your child is to show that you are okay with not being perfect. You do so by forgiving and seeing the good in yourself. Teens watch what you do and notice how you react. So treat yourself well, and they’ll learn to treat themselves well.
- Release Emotions. When we bottle our emotions, they fester and can lead to unresolved feelings. Help your children find healthy ways to express their emotions. Encourage talking, journaling, creative expression, exercise, meditation, or prayer. Tell them you are there to talk things through or share in their frustrations.
- Remain Calm. In addition to our words, we communicate unspoken signals that can calm others. Express your unconditional love and be a constant, calming presence for your children. But don’t forget that you’re human also. Be sure that you have found your calm place before reaching out to support your child. That may require getting support, finding a space for reflection, or writing feelings down. Don’t be afraid to show your child that it takes work and intention to get to a calm state when stressed.
- Be Realistic and Honest. Say what you know and admit what you don’t. And, work together to find credible information that educates and brings a greater understanding of the issue. Uncertainty often leads us to imagine the worst. This kind of catastrophic thinking interferes with your ability to concentrate and plan. It also can make you feel physically ill. Stop and ask yourself if you are imagining the worst. Then take a few deep breaths and work together to find the truth. By allowing your thoughts to be realistic, not optimistic, you’ll be able to better plan out solutions and problem-solve.
- Let Things Go. Take control. It’s uncomfortable to feel out of control. Sometimes you do have to let certain things go to regain a sense of security. For example, what you see on the news may be upsetting to you. While you can’t control what’s on the news, you can control how much media your family consumes.
Find Happiness and Show Gratitude. Even in tough times, it’s important to discover moments of happiness. Sometimes it takes effort, like choosing to play a game or cook a favorite recipe. Other times, it’s as simple as looking around you. Be intentional about including things that make you happy in your everyday life. Appreciate a sunset. Share a joke with a friend. Hug your child. Finding small things to be grateful for can have a big impact on your well-being. Express out loud one thing that you’re thankful for every morning. Gratitude is proven to make people happier and healthier — both physically and mentally.
Seek Connection. It’s comforting to know you’re not alone. That together, we are stronger. At times you may not feel secure. That’s when it’s essential to reach out and draw strength from others. Let your child see the positive effects of reaching out to others during stressful times.
We’re living in an unprecedented time. Yet there’s an opportunity to model skills that build our children’s resilience. Developing this kind of mindset can help them get through the uncertainty of today and prepare them for challenges they will face in the future.
This piece was co-authored by Eden Pontz, Executive Producer and Elyse Salek, Senior Manager at the Center for Parent and Teen Communication.