Children are resilient
This isn’t new information. But, as parents, how do we encourage that resiliency? COVID-19 has bestowed a great deal of adversity upon us all and parents need to consider how we are teaching our children to deal with that hardship. Each child is different, and their levels of communication vary. Sometimes that is a result of parenting and sometimes it is the child’s personality. No matter the circumstance, the children need tools to help cope with what is happening in the world. They need to understand that the situation is temporary and need to feel safe. These things can be achieved through open and honest communication.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. ~ Mark Twain
The key to success for all things including relationships, work, self-care, and parenting. We need to tell our children what is going on. Tell them that there is a virus, a sickness, a global pandemic, plaguing the world right now. Explain, in the respective age-appropriate way, that the people of the world need to work together to overcome this terrible ordeal. You do not have to instill fear or be so graphic that your child will be afraid of leaving the house, but elaborate on what is happening, how we are working to fix it and emphasize it is temporary. The knowledge you give them will make them surer of all the strange things that are happening and aid them to understand why their worlds have changed so drastically. This will make them more resilient. Without information, they are ignorant to their surroundings, their suddenly altered environment, and will be fearful, sad, anxious, and unable to cope.
Parents think they are listening when they are really hearing to respond. A lot of parents, sadly, do not truly acknowledge their child’s feelings. I have witnessed many a parent brush their child’s sadness/anxiety/fear off and simply say, “Oh, you will be fine.” Parents need to be more attentive to their child’s emotions and truly validate how they are feeling. Kids need to understand that it is OK to be afraid, sad, worried, or frustrated with their current situations. However, they also need to comprehend that their parents have faith in them, are supportive, and are willing to help guide them through these uncertain times. Children need reassurance and active listening paired with a positive attitude.
By communicating openly, being honest, and validating feelings, parents can arm their children with the protection of confidence, bravery, and optimism to face the turmoil that COVID-19 has created. Only then will they be able to conquer these new hurdles and become healthy, resilient children.