Helping Children Cope with Change
Has your office or place of business shut down? Have you been working from home instead of the office? Do you know what day it is??? I know I had to check my phone this morning to figure out the date, how about you? For those whose schedules have been disrupted or completely changed due to the precautions in place for COVID-19, it is easy to get lost in time and in space. When routines change abruptly as they did for many of us, acknowledging and accepting change can be difficult. Sometimes it is easy to become overly focused on the things over which we have no control and resentment builds; this could lead to anxiety, sadness, relationship difficulties, depression or even a loss of physical health. This is true for children, too.
Children all over the world have had their daily schedules and typical activities turned upside down with little warning and sometimes without a full understanding of why. The sudden and quite dramatic changes children are experiencing now have the potential to impact their socio-emotional growth and academic achievement. The good news is that adults can positively impact the effects of change by creating an environment in which children feel safe and secure, and by using the transition as a learning experience to support their children’s growth and development in all domains.
Helping Children Cope with Change
Understanding how to manage transitions for your child and implementing some simple practices can ease the stress your child may be feeling and even increase their overall resilience. Simply put, resilience is the ability for one to face a challenging situation and recover quickly. Although there are many opinions on whether or not resilience is inherent, a character trait or skill to be developed one thing is certain- resilience is a key factor in regaining equilibrium when in the midst of uncertainty and change. It makes sense then to approach the current world, community and family challenges from a perspective of building resilience. Here are some things you can do as a parent or guardian to model resilience and foster resilient behaviors and attitudes in your child.
Navigate. Choose to be a “navigator” rather than a victim or survivor. Make that choice now. According to (Arecchi & Baker, 2012), unlike victims or survivors, navigators foster a belief that they have what it takes to deal competently with the situation. Navigators identify their goals and act upon them; they don’t wait around for things to happen to them and complain (victim) nor do they hunker down in an attempt to preserve themselves. Navigators don’t often work alone; they enlist the help of others and build a community of supporters. In times of challenge, having a community of like-minded members can ease the burden and foster courage.
Maintain Relationships. Focus on your family and the relationships you have built with your children and those your children have built with others. Close relationships with adults and other children are critical for children’s healthy adjustment as they provide children with security, comfort and a strong base from which to operate. Keep your child’s connections in place via the wide array of technology tools available and the list of free digital tools is growing each day. Explore options such as Google Hangout, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or other video conferencing tools to maintain communication and interaction. How about a virtual play date where children create and share art? Why not join the Trifecta Education community and get some support?
Focus on Well-being. Take care of yourself and your family both physically and mentally. While you may not be able to hit the gym, you can grab the dog and kids and go for a walk around the neighborhood, take a hike or explore a new online fitness program together. This is also a great time to introduce mindfulness practices into your new daily schedule. There are so many resources to choose from online and apps that can help your family learn how to meditate, do yoga. Grab some paper and start a family journaling project or scrapbook. Focus on things that bring you peaceful feelings and joy; avoid the negative for now.
Find Purpose. Don’t let social isolation fake you into thinking you can’t make a difference or help others. With your family develop some realistic goals that will help others and build your children’s confidence. Donate to a food bank, offer to help your neighbor, support local businesses by purchasing gift cards or make treats for your local animal shelter. Even if you have budgetary restraints, you can still do something as simple as sending a good ol’ fashioned letter to an elderly relative or friend. Helping feels good and is a great way to combat feeling helpless. Now is also a good time to do some self-reflection and plan for your future. Where are you going and how will you get there?
New Routines. Creating a daily routine or schedule can be helpful to your child. Children at school are used to having a very strict, time sensitive schedule to keep their learning, extra-curricular and social experiences on track. Transitioning to a home environment that has many distractions is difficult for learners and creating a daily schedule can provide a sense of certainty and security. There are many schedules circulating online that provide structure, but still allow families room to plug in their specific activities or experiences. Including the time for rising and shining is always a good idea as it provides consistency. If you have a teen now might be a great time to start their learning activities later in the morning when it is in alignment with their natural sleeping rhythm. Who knows, maybe your teen will be excited to jump into their studies at 11:00 and accomplish more than ever!
Want more information about meeting the needs of your children during the COVID-19 pandemic? Join the Trifecta Education Community on Facebook and be sure to subscribe to our website
Arecchi, V. & Baker, E. (2012). Effective strategies to move from change to resilience. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2012—North America, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.