Raising Resilient Kids During A Global Emergency
As the world continues to adjust to a new normal, raising resilient kids has never been more crucial. Writer, Author & Mother of Two, Summer Land, shares the advice and wisdom that’s helping her family cope.
When the news of COVID-19 started taking over my phone, TV, podcast library and mind, I happened to be just over 9,000 miles away from my husband, two kids and mother at a best friend’s wedding in the US. Like most people around the world in the early days, I kept wondering if I was over-reacting or under-reacting. Was the media making it a bigger deal than it was? When I called my husband in Australia, he said everything was pretty normal there – no news of any cases. That put me at ease. But as I watched borders being closed and the number of cases doubling over night, I realized that there was nothing normal about COVID-19.
Miraculously, my flight from Dallas to Sydney went ahead as scheduled, but I was made aware that I would need to self-isolate for 14 days. My husband and I knew we’d need to mentally prepare our kids (ages 6 and 4) for what the next two weeks, two months and even two years would look like. This was and is proving quite difficult because there is still so much unknown. How many more people will become sick? How many businesses will have to close? How long will it take to get a vaccine? How can teachers and kids safely go to school?
As a firm believer that it truly does take a village to raise a child, shutting my kids off from friends, family, school, and their extra curricular activities is scary. While I’m the first one to admit I love staying home, I know that the connections and conversations my kids have at school, at dance and even with compassionate store clerks is what’s shaping their little minds. (And let’s be honest – I also like the break!) Even though my state hasn’t shut down schools yet, we made the personal decision to keep our kids home. Because we are in a position to work from anywhere, we felt like this was a way we could help flatten the curve. We also have my 70-year-old mom living with us and I worry about them bringing the virus home to her.
Of all the parenting books I’ve read and websites I’ve referenced over the years, there was never any advice on ‘How To Raise Kids in A Global Emergency.’ Advice on potty training? Yes. Global pandemic? No.
Luckily, the below advice from friends, family and professionals has been extremely helpful.
Set Expectations From The Start
Prepare your child for the idea of change. In the case of COVID-19, let them know that because so many people are getting sick, we are going to need to change our own behavior to keep the world healthy.
Describe things that they might see:
- People wearing masks
- People staying in bedrooms while they’re sick
- A whole lot more hand washing
- Parents with furrowed brows scrolling through their news app trying to gather information
- A lot more screen time
Describe things that they might NOT see:
- Their grandparents
- The playground
- Friends for playdates
- Traditional school lessons
Point out all the things they can still do
Even though your child might be upset that they can’t go to soccer practice, art class, birthday parties or school, there is still fun to be had!
- They can still go outside and play
- They can still move and groove to music in the living room
- They can still read, color, craft and create
You can also show them how people are still connecting online. Let them watch funny videos of people dancing, couples getting married on Zoom, singers belting out tunes in their PJs and other kids adjusting to a life of social-distancing.
Count those blessings! Make expressing your gratitude for three things a daily ritual. You’ll notice younger kids will often repeat what you say in the beginning, but as you go, you’ll see them develop a true understanding of the activity.
Today, my kids were grateful for:
- The doctors and nurses working so hard to make people better
- Our time together
- The super yummy batch of banana pancakes we ate for breakfast
Ask them how they’re feeling and what they need
I’ve found that chatting with my kids about how they’re feeling helps give me a sense of their mental state.
Try questions like:
- How are you feeling about not being able to go to school?
- Is there anyone you’d like to try and video chat to?
- Are you worried about anyone?
Be honest, even when it’s scary
If your kids are asking you questions that you can’t answer, it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.”
It’s a reality of life and one that they need to be comfortable hearing and feeling. The truth is, we don’t know when life will return to normal. What we do know is that together, we will find a way to make the journey meaningful.
Summer Land is a writer and the author of I Now Pronounce You Husband and Expat and Summerlandish: Do As I Say, Not As I Did.
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