By Paul Walia
Children are especially sensitive to change and the current health crisis has only added to many children’s feelings of uncertainty and frustration. Parents play a vital role in helping to maintain their child’s sense of security and predictability. Below are some practical tips and recommendations fostering resiliency and security in children in the wake of COVID-19.
- Validate and celebrate. Emotions such as frustration and worry are not taboo and your child’s willingness to express real emotion should be both validated and celebrated. The key is to teach your child to express emotions in a healthy and productive way. By validating your child’s emotions, you are fostering resilience because he/she will feel less threatened, feel less apprehensive, and will be more apt to express feelings in the future.
- Build resilience. Don’t wait till your child gets upset to teach about feelings and coping skills. Use TV shows, books, and other mediums to find age appropriate resources to help illustrate and teach about positive problem-solving. Embrace the reality that your child will get upset or lose control at some point in time. Help your child navigate the emotional landscape by building confidence and teaching emotional intelligence in advance.
- Empower your child. Confidence stems from a sense of industry and feelings of competence. While it is easy to step in and problem solve for your child, it will eventually lead to dependency and self-doubt. Instead, align yourself with your child and guide them through the positive coping process. Also, help them build industry by assigning your child responsibilities like chores, and helping with common tasks around the house. The resulting sense of pride and accomplishment will pay huge dividends when your child has to face unexpected outcomes.
- Be proactive. Build structure and routine into your child’s day. Nothing breeds comfort like consistency. Routine leads to predictability and subsequently to feelings of safety. By adhering to established routines and schedules, you are helping to communicate that there is control over your child’s environment. While flexibility is the key to resilience, positive expectations and consistency provide children with the fortitude to adapt to disappointment and unexpected change.
- Practice self-care. Modeling is the single most powerful teaching modality, and actions speak louder than words. By practicing self-care and maintaining a positive demeanor, you will be able to maintain a calm disposition in the face of stress and chaos. You will also be better prepared to withstand your child’s expression of frustration and remain calm. By modeling positive behaviors and reactions your child will follow suit and display the same behaviors.