Positive Parenting in Uncertain Times. Part 9; Resilience

Tue May 26th 2020

Your children will be hearing the word ‘resilience’ a lot.

.....'You have been so resilient during this time'.

......'Lock down has supported us to find better ways to become resilient'.

......'This is a time to become resilient'.

But what does that word mean to your child?

It might mean that their mind and body has found a way to be resilient over the several days and months of lockdown and this virus.

 Prior to this though your child may have already discovered different ways of becoming resilient due to a change of lifestyle, diagnosis, disability, transplant, hospital admissions and procedures. As adults we are often amazed at how children ‘cope’ with life’s changes.

Their siblings have found ways to be adaptable and resilient as they see their ‘sick’ sibling go through medical/surgical procedures, change in lifestyle and or routines. 

Throughout this lockdown and now at Level 2, if the ‘well’ child isn’t going to school to keep their sibling that is sick ‘safe’ you may find they become resilient and understanding of the situation more so than another child or they may become resentful of their sibling for keeping them away from their friends and socializing. Give them ‘time’ and ‘space’ to talk this through. This is their ‘new norm’.

Now during this time of lock down and Covid 19, the pandemic that has hit NZ and the world, you and your child/ren may have found other ways of being resilient that you never knew existed. This might surprise you.

‘Resilience is the psychological quality that allows some people to be knocked down by the adversities of life and come back at least as strong as before. 

Rather than letting difficulties, traumatic events, or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, highly resilient people find a way to change course, emotionally heal, and continue moving toward their goals.’                                         https://www.psychologytoday.com/nz/basics/resilience

You may have heard it said “that children are so resilient”. They can be, but they still need your support, advice and kind words. 

They aren’t born with or without the power to be resilient, this is something they must ‘learn to do’

The ‘New Norm’ we are now in requires resilience, as the children learn to adapt to a new way of doing things. 

At school, during hospital admissions, Drs appointments, shopping and socializing. How can you as parents support your child to build resilience?

Solve problems - Allow your child to discover and solve their own problems rather than rescuing them and giving them the solutions.

Promote ‘heathy risk taking’ - Children need to continue to take risks, if it’s not dangerous and can cause harm. Currently this may be challenging, as there are certain ‘risks’ as a country we can not afford to take. 

Build on the emotional well-being – talk about emotions, meanings, what this looks like – how to manage emotions. Allow your child to discover for themselves how they can manage their emotions.

Don’t ‘fix’ your child’s problems – ask questions, build on strategies to let them come to their own conclusions.

Listen, Reflect. Guide – Acknowledge your child, tell them you’ve heard them by reflecting. Guide them to find solutions – again try not to recuse them.

Label Emotions – Help support your child to label the emotions and feelings. A good movie for this is ‘Inside out’. 

Name mistakes (Including yours) it’s good for children to hear about your mistakes and how you managed to resolve them, instead of ‘giving up’ help build resilience to help your child find another way around it.

Promote the ‘bright’ side of a negative situation – it’s easy to be pessimistic about everything that appears so negative. To look at the glass half empty. Flick it around, find the positive, be optimistic, look at the glass being half full. 

Model resilience – name resilience when you are finding a way around a challenging situation.

Breathe – remember to teach your child to breathe properly. In through the nose for three seconds, hold for two seconds and out of the mouth for three seconds.

Often learning ways to be resilient can cause anger and frustration. Again, naming these emotions and feelings can be helpful.

An activity to help your child understand where they are on the ‘scale’ anger/frustration is to create a simple ‘traffic light’ system. 

Invite your child to draw a traffic light, colour in the circles – Red, Amber, Green. 

Red = STOP 

Amber = BREATHE, practice breathing, think about what would be best to defuse the anger, frustration, what can be done to build resilience (how can the child support themselves) ideas maybe to go to their room, to have time to think, punch and pillow, go for a walk etc.

  Green = TAKE ACTION.

School may be following the ‘Zones of regulation’. Ask your school if this is the method they use and if so can it be adapted for home life too?

Graffiti board – Create a large chalk board in your home, maybe on the back of your child’s door, back of the washroom door or in the garage. Give your child permission to draw or write anything on this board for free expression. As parents/caregivers you can’t tell your child off for what they use to write or draw, however you can sit with your child to discuss what they have created and why?

Play Dough and Clay – Both great for free expression and smashing out anger.   

The following websites have some great activities on building resilience for children, youth and adults.