Resilience in Children During a Time of Change
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” In this time of change and uncertainty, it is vital that we take care of ourselves and intentionally build resilience in ourselves and our children. Remember, it is normal to feel stressed and/or anxious. We aren’t in control of everything in our lives and those are completely normal emotions to experience. However, you are in control of your mindset and you can take steps to address the stress you might be feeling. Guidance from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child found that supportive and responsive relationships with caring adults help develop resilience in children. Counterbalance the difficult things in a child’s life that might be out of your control with positive experiences that you can control.
First and foremost, take the time to take care of yourself. You will be able to better connect with the children you care for if you have an opportunity to rest, identify your support system and accept the change. Like we mentioned earlier, stress and anxiety are normal, but we want to make sure that our children are not having to deal with the stressor for a prolonged amount of time. Stable and supportive adults can help youth develop by providing individualized comfort and a buffer for children to adjust to sudden disruption.
Next, encourage your child to set goals. Establish short-term goals that can be achieved within a few hours or a day and have a medium-term goal for the week. By setting goals, you are encouraging healthy thinking through building a sense of self-efficacy and perceived control.
Lastly, take this opportunity to stay connected with family, culture, traditions and faith. These are protective factors that help develop a person’s identity and promote wellness and connection within ourselves. Provide an opportunity for children to connect with family, friends, and 4-H clubs through utilizing the telecommunication technologies that are available.
Research points to the importance of building and maintaining an “environment of relationships” with others who will provide individualized experiences that build on the child’s interests and needs. Support your children’s ability to self-manage their stress so it becomes an opportunity for growth. This will allow them to build the ability to cope with change and life’s obstacles. I emphasize once again, as adults raising children, be intentional about taking care of yourself and model healthy behaviors so you can better support those around you.
Source: Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University (https://developingchild.harvard.edu/)