This year is one that we will always remember, the constant changes and unknowns are still with us in many respects and our children have not been exempted from these. As parents, there was no time for us to quickly gather ourselves beforehand – our children have lived through every moment of the pandemic WITH us.
As we see our COVID-19 cases decrease and life slowly morphs back into our “normal”, there are still many uncertainties. For instance, my oldest son who is in 6th grade, has not been able to go back to school five days a week, due to the schools rotational policy. He goes in twice a week or three times a week, depending on his roster.
Some changes may appear to be small, but it is a scary time for some children. They have doubts and real fears, just like we do. In this post, I’ll touch on three strategies which may be helpful when trying to help your child to cope with the changes and build resilience.
Resilience is a tool which helps us cope through adversity and stressful situations. It helps us bounce back from challenges as we go through life. Within families, it can also strengthen bonds as we learn, fail and grow together.
Communicate regularly and honestly
Tell your children what is going on around the world and your feelings in an age appropriate way. Keep them posted with any changes and encourage them to ask you lots of questions.
During a discussion with my son, he admitted that he found the “homeschooling” days quite stressful as he didn’t have the full guidance from his teachers and the interaction with friends. I then took the opportunity to share my experience of working from home with him, touching on how I’ve also battled to keep up with the load while missing my colleagues.
Being open about my own experiences opened up the floor for him to ask more questions and in-turn feel less alone about his feelings. When we show our vulnerable, human-side to our children, we allow them to see that challenges can be overcome.
Help them recognise their achievements and failures
Teaching our children that mistakes are normal and empowering is a much-needed shift. Life is not made of perfect scenarios, so teaching them that changes and mistakes give us opportunities to learn prepares them for those moments when things will go wrong.
Here are a few things you can ask them or they can write down:
- What/who inspires me?
- What have I overcome?
- What did I learn about myself during the Covid-19 pandemic?
- What makes me proud of myself?
- What are the positive changes that have come from the national lockdown?
You will be surprised at what they will tell you or write down.
Something to reflect on: how do you react when your child makes a mistake? Our reactions affect how confident our children will feel about making mistakes. If we create a safe space and productive space for them, they will start to see failures as learning opportunities.
Encourage them to laugh more
Laughter is a lifelong gift for children – research has shown that laughter plays an important role in developing self-esteem, learning to problem-solve and honing social skills. It also helps children make sense of their world, develop empathy with others, reduce stress and pain, and thereby building resilience and a happy, healthy child.
I always encourage quality, engaged family time – get to know one another and do something FUN together. We have our weekend movie night rituals that the children always look forward to – we pull their mattresses in the lounge and I make popcorn. While we juggle our many hats of working, parenting and homeschooling, we can have those worthwhile breaks.
Childhood is a precious time and I look back at mine and mostly remember the great memories. It’s normal to doubt your parenting skills, but keep reminding yourself that you are doing your very best. We will look back on 2020 and be proud of ourselves and our children for thriving through change and uncertainty.
Modern Zulu Mom
Thank you for this