Parenting is definitely an active sport, and this pandemic has demonstrated to us all how you need an action plan in order to teach resiliency in your kid and teenager. Here are a few important tips to include:
Get to know their true feelings. To do so, try asking open-ended questions when talking with your kid/ teen. Asking teenagers inquiring questions may help get conversations flowing, such as, “Can you tell me how I can best help you prepare for school next year?” Use a ‘worry jar’ in your home and offer solutions to worries you might find in there. Put in a few examples of worries of your own and get their ideas on how to address these, too.
Adjust your expectations. None of us are functioning at our best right now. It takes time for the brain to heal. We have all been through a collective trauma during this pandemic.
Exercise thankfulness. Model this daily to your kid. Make lists of things you are grateful for. We sometimes think of ‘strong, resilient people’ as those who aren’t bothered by hard times. On the contrary, becoming resilient while facing huge stressors is a series of active, intentional choices in thought.
Encourage kids to spend time with friends/positive relationships. For kids and teens, interacting, socializing, and playing/hanging out are critical to a healthy mind.
Promote time spent outdoors. Nature offers a quiet space that allows our minds to process emotions and find solutions. Time spent with animals and the outdoors is therapeutic for the brain; it is like actively meditating.
Look for silver linings. Validate the challenges of this year, but also highlight that it’s the most difficult situations that teach us the most about ourselves. Talk with your kid/ teen about what you and they have learned through this year.
Talk about what changes have occurred. And more importantly, what we have all learned from them. For example, cleaner environmental changes, slowing down, more family time, and learning to consider our feelings and interests more.
Let your kids see you taking time for yourself. Kids/teens learn the most by what they SEE us doing and saying. Especially if you are overwhelmed as a parent, one of the most powerful gifts you can give your child is sharing we are imperfect, too.
Say thank you. Mr. Rogers mentioned years ago, “In any community trauma, look for the helpers.” Ask your child/teen who they remember helping them in some small or big way this year and take a moment to write a thank you note.
When you make a mistake, because we all will, apologize. Kids/teens learn how to apologize and express remorse, accountability, and a commitment to change and consider other’s feelings by watching us. It is reassuring to them that we are not perfect and do not expect them to be. If you are struggling with lots of difficult emotions, make an appointment to speak with a therapist for support.