Raising your child’s resiliency quotient during Covid may be one of the most important things we do while parenting this next generation. I think there is an assumption that children are just naturally resilient and don’t need to be guided through big changes. I don’t agree with this.
The entire experience of quarantine and unprecedented change, for us, has felt very defining. I say “for us” because we aren’t the first generation to go through a terrifying and sweeping medical concern. Think about the polio era. My family was directly affected when my Uncle contracted polio. They were terrified, he faced death and it eventually uprooted their family looking for better medical care. He survived it but it changed him physically, mentally, emotionally and it changed their family. I can only imagine this was terrifying. It became history but it was defining.
Just before Quarantine, I lost my Mom to cancer like so many before me. My grief, our grief, bled into our quarantine. It was a tumultuous start to an already disruptive time. It turned into a very introspective time. It made me stop and think about my childhood. I did not have a perfect childhood but it was a happy one.
My mom had a much different life growing up but had refused to allow them to define her future. I realized that she had taken some steps and precautions that taught us about perspective and at times, when necessary, shielded us from the truths that weren’t ours to bare the burden of.
In place of harder times, my memories are happy times and funny traditions. She taught me “mindset change” before it was cool and I’m eternally grateful and will gladly pass this down to my kids. It has served me well when life actually did throw me those rough times. These are some of the ways I’m helping support my children and raise their resiliency quotient during Covid.
Ways I’m Raising My Child’s Resiliency Quotient During Covid
Give Space for Disappointment and Sadness
I have one kid who likes to pack feelings away and ignore anything that triggers those types of feelings. I had to cry in front of her and we made space together for sadness. We talked about how disappointing things like change were. My younger child seems to have waves of understanding or recognizing sadness and disappointment. I have to catch him in those moments and stop everything to acknowledge them. Allowing them to know that having emotions is totally normal and also showing them that these emotions won’t last forever.
Keep Them Moving Forward
Give space for the tough feelings but give them a way to move forward. Growing up, my mom would tell us to go for a run. She didn’t care if it was around the block or 6 miles, just move yourself forward. For my kids, it’s been through music and art. It’s turning on music and letting them get creative. I think it’s important that this is catered to the individual child.
Make a New Memory or Tradition
My mom’s expertise was creating a weird/funny/silly memory or tradition. During the summer she’d wake us up insanely early, put us in the car and we’d watch the sunrise on the beach. We carried this tradition straight to high school where my friends joined in on this tradition. My kids were insanely disappointed that they didn’t get a class party with friends, s we threw a party in our playroom with balloons, snacks and a dance party. They loved it. I hope it trumps the memory of what they missed out on.
Perspective and Mindset Change
A few years ago my daughter was concerned about a stage performance. It was the first time she was actually nervous and fearful of “messing up”. I asked her “if you mess up, will the stage open up and gobble you up?”. She scoffed, “of course not!”. “Ok, well, will your hair turn into a purple mohawk or will you turn into a big fluffy bunny?” “NOOOOO!!!!”, she screeched at me. “Ok, well sounds to me like nothing bad will happen.”
Were they ridiculous examples? Absolutely but she learned perspective and then I reminded her that all that mattered was having the most fun possible. She messed up her routine, they didn’t win their competition and her only response after the winners were announced were “that was so much fun! Can we get ice cream?”. And we did!
Our Joint Approach
My husband and I have concerns about testing numbers, school opening and “the new normal”. We try to keep our raw and unchecked reactions to new news to ourselves until we are done processing. Then we have more control over the delivery. We can acknowledge the changes aren’t ideal but that moving forward we can just do our best.
When there is turbulence on a flight, you watch the flight attendants. They have no control over the turbulence but they can control the panic in their demeanor. We are the flight attendants. Our kids are the passengers and they are watching to see if they should panic or remain calm. Let’s try to keep the drink service going smoothly and keep our tiny passengers from unnecessary panic even if we all just felt our stomach drop.