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How parents can teach their children resilience during uncertain times

"Bounce back and adapt"
Posted at 11:50 AM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 11:55:33-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- If 2020 has been anything, it's been uncertain. Navigating that uncertainty takes resilience which is the ability to bounce back when things don't go as planned.

Educational Consultant Rachel Gladstone says parents can teach their kids about resilience by helping them develop a growth mindset.

Gladstone says we often associate change with a negative mindset but she is challenging us to rethink that.

"And when we rethink that we are essentially changing our mindset to a growth mindset, and one that supports the development of resiliency," she said.

That doesn't mean we should have a false sense of positivity, but it does mean we should use mistakes and failure to help kids learn how to problem solve.

"Even in the midst of challenge, there is an opportunity to see the silver lining too you know... move beyond that struggle and to see the bigger picture," Gladstone explained.

She says we can take these opportunities to model resilience for our kids and show them what it looks like to bounce back and adapt to change.

"Those are skills that are going to be really self-serving for our kids not just during a COVID time, but really as they progress through their academic path," Gladstone said.

She says an easy way for your family to get started is with a simple gratitude practice.

Gladstone says a journal works to write down three things you're grateful for every day. Or, you can share with family around the dinner table. Gladstone says you can ask everyone a simple question, "What's one thing that happened today or one kind thing that somebody said that just made you feel, you know, made your heart feel happy?"

Making sure kids feel safe and connected can also help develop resilience. She said that while we may not have control over all aspects of our lives right now, we can provide kids with feelings of safety by using these tips:

1. Model coping strategies that teach adaptability and flexibility. Do your best to remain calm, cool and collected. If you are feeling frustrated, name the feeling and model a healthy coping strategy to teach that frustration is a normal feeling that we all feel at times, but that you (and they) can handle it!

2. Create routines/schedules—kids often feel better and thus do better when they know what to expect!

3. Validate your child’s feelings and let them know that you are on their team. If they are having a hard time or resisting an assignment, validate their feelings and let them know that you are on their team and their to help them make a plan to work through it. Model problem solving, often breaking things into small chunks is helpful. See if they have ideas on how to solve the problem. Use language that lets them know that they are problem solvers and that they can do hard things!

4. Answer kids questions in an honest and age appropriate way. If you don’t know the answer, make an appointment with them to talk about it later. This gives you time to find the answer and figure out how you want to frame the conversation and then make sure to follow up with them once you are better prepared. It helps to ask kids what they already know about the topic to help guide your conversation.

Gladstone also offered suggestions for creating connections with your child:

1. Find time to connect 1:1–make a weekly date to do something special together
2. Do your best to eat at least 1 meal together as a family daily
3. Practice an “Attunement Activity” nightly-read a book together, share something you are grateful for...
4. Get creative on ways to stay safely connected with friends (we may be physically distant but we don’t have to be socially distant)

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