Resilience and joy in the time of Adversity
What do they mean for your kids? How to build resilience and teach joy to your children
Resilience in the time of adversity
In these strange times, we have all wondered what to do to handle the Covid –19 pandemic. For parents, there has been another challenge. How do they handle Covid-19 so that their children will not be traumatized? For some parents, this meant trying to shield their children as much a possible.
This same issue also obviously arises when there is a death or illness in the family. Should a child go to the funeral? Should the child go to the hospital to visit a dying relative? In fact, psychologists believe that allowing kids to face adversity and learn to handle it, is good for them and if handled properly will not traumatize children. But how do parents or caregivers build resilience?
Two Ways Parents can build Resilience in their Children
Psychologists suggest that facing adversity allows children to learn from it. Thus, they will be able to handle adversity in the future. Said in a simpler way, if you can conquer one bad situation, you have learned how to do it the next time something bad happens. So how do parents teach kids resilience? Mona Delahooke, a Los Angeles clinical psychologist, explains that parents should bond with their children, communicate with them, and engage socially with them.
1. Bonding and Connecting with your Children
Psychologists use psychological words like “connecting” and “bonding. None of us are psychologists though. What do psychologists mean when they say parents must connect and bond with their children? Despite the big terms, the concept is easy. children need to know that they are loved and that things are or will be fine. To do that parents must show love and have close physical contact with their children. This demonstration of love is called bonding and connection. That means hugs, showing reassuring looks and kisses. Basically, a parent, can buffer stress physically and emotionally for their children by reassuring them and by giving their children affection. Touch and tenderness is very reassuring to children and each is more important than any external problem the children are facing. Put another way, if a child feels love then they can adjust to problems.
2. Communicating and Engaging Socially
Communication between children and their parents is always important but in times of crisis children can process stress by talking to their parents. Thus, communication is even more important psychologists say. If you are calm, then your children will be calm. While some children will talk directly about their fears, others do so only indirectly. Similarly, during play some children will tell their parents what is on their mind and others will show their parents what is on their mind through the themes of the games they want to play. Pay attention to what their play says about what is on their minds. If they want to play doctor and they want you to be the patient so they can fix you, they might be worried about what if you get sick. Once you understand what is on your child’s mind, then you can talk to them about it and reduce their fears.
Psychologists say, parents should “engage socially” with their kids as much as possible in a crisis. I am not sure why psychologists have to create new words for normal concepts, but it is clear that they think you should play with your children. Children playing and having fun with parents and other family members relieves stress.
What does novel play involve?
Play is always important but playing in a novel way is what is needed according to Dr. Mona Delahooke, a noted clinical psychologist. Novel playing means doing things you have never done before with your children.
Parents can do many different types of things that could be fun and novel for their kids . One family, I know, has ben having family concerts a few nights per week. Each family member plays an instrument, sings, or performs in some way. The family’s neighbors are delighted, and everyone enjoys, family members and neighbors alike. Another family decided to sing together. The mother taught the children and her husband to sign her favorite song. The family’s two little boys, aged 4 and 5, started the song, one at a time, then all the others in the family joined in. The extended family was in lockdown in different homes, but this did not stop them. Practice sessions were held and finally they recorded the concert. The family enjoyed the singing and then posted the concert on the internet so that other people could enjoy it too. Remember doing small things can be fun for children too. Making a fort out of pillows in the dining room or living room, leaning to cook, or learning to play the guitar or playing anything that is different from the day to day life for the parents and kids.
One friend with a 3 and 7-year-old said how just playing with the kids and seeing things from their perspective was so enjoyable for him and the children. He normally worked a lot and only had the weekends to relax, recharge and play with the children. He asked his children what they wanted to do during their confinement due to Covid-19. Each child knew exactly what they wanted now that their dad was home for an extended period. So, they made a birdhouse, a huge wooden fort in the living room and a large cardboard castle. In addition, they went on nature walks daily to discover what animals were about in the woods and he taught the children to have respect for animals. All new things for his children.
Obviously, novel play is different for each child and family. The bottom line is simple. When your child is distracted from a problem, they can relax, learn to accept the problem (the elephant in the room) and decide how to handle it. I understand this need for time to learn to accept a problem, as I generally need two three days to adjust when in a new difficult situation. Playing in a novel way will bring fun for adults and children alike. Spending more family time together than normal, means more special little moments spent together.
Every parent will figure out a way of handling this pandemic for themselves and for their children. Just remember that whatever you do now, you are helping your children learn how handle stress and adversity. If your children remember this pandemic as a time full of fun play times with their parents, then you will have done your job.
There are so many ways to do this and a lifetime of rewards for your children. What have you done to help your kids deal with the pandemic and build resilience?
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