This year has been filled with constant change, uncertainty, and deeply unpredictable environments for our children. Here are some tips in helping your kids "bounce back" during difficult times, a skill that will not only help them navigate this challenging year, but also promote their growth into healthy adulthood.
*Focus on relationship- The foundation of resilience in children and teens is a loving, unconditional, predictable relationship with an adult
Try to set aside time with each child each day (it could just be five minutes!) to check in and remind them that you’re rooting for them.
Increase their exposure to the care of other loving adults in their lives. Try sharing their achievements with grandparents, aunts/uncles, ect., and then informing your children of their responses (e.g: I showed grandma the painting you made. She thought it was beautiful!)
*Create an environment where it’s normal to ask for help
Model asking for help yourself
Explicitly say: “I am here to help you if you get stuck. I know you can do a lot of things on your own, but we all get stuck sometimes.”
*Foster executive functioning skills
Establish a predictable schedule and routine, as much as is possible
Support reliable relationships with peers and encourage appropriate social contact
Make time for creative play (even for teens!)
Play board games together, which fosters impulse control, turn-taking, and consequence analysis
Allow age-appropriate choice as much as possible
Encourage exercise. Build it into daily routines
*Teach mindfulness skills
Take time each day to notice what’s happening in a single moment.
For younger children, this may look like sitting the back yard and describing what they see, hear, smell, and feel.
For older children, there are many good guided mindfulness exercises on YouTube or apps like Buhddify or Calm
*Encourage effort, not result
Rather than commenting on results of a spelling test, for instance, comment on how much effort you saw your child putting in to study
Make note of and celebrate growth, rather than achievement. When you see improvement, let your child know that you notice!
*Acknowledge grief, AND focus on opportunity
Your child may miss her friends, but perhaps she has an opportunity to send funny letters back and forth in the mail. Your child may miss playing soccer, but maybe that frees up more time to hone their skills.
Acknowledge their expressed emotion (“I know it can be lonely not to see your friends at school every day.”) and then help them reframe (“What can we do to help you feel connected to your friends in a new way?”)
*Be gracious with yourself and with your children
This is an incredibly difficult time, and nobody knows how to manage all of the shifting challenges perfectly.
Get support for yourself. Parenting social media groups, friends, family, and counseling are all great ways to make sure you have what you need. It's more difficult parenting on empty.
Say to yourself and to your children, “I am doing the best I can. I trust that you’re doing the best you can. We are in this together, so let’s work together.”