Parents: Don’t Forget to Praise Your Kids for Their Resiliency
Since March of last year, our children have faced unprecedented, unpredictable, difficult and scary times. COVID-19 continues to negatively impact the daily lives of all age groups. When stepping back and reflecting on what our children have endured this past year with lock downs, school closures, virtual learning, social isolation/distancing, separation from loved ones, and pausing of extra-curricular activities with an unforeseen timeline, it is hard to imagine how they have handled all of this and more. There is no such thing as immunity to hardships in life and traumatic events such as this pandemic. However, there is resiliency that helps with all the turbulence that negative things happening in the world creates. So I write this blog to remind parents, teachers, and caregivers to take the time and praise our youth for their remarkable resiliency.
According to Google resiliency is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” In other words this term defines one’s ability to overcome challenges of all kinds –life stressors, trauma, tragedy, personal crisis, etc. in a way that doesn’t set him/her back; but, rather helps one grow stronger and build problem-solving tools to apply and handle life’s difficulties and uncertainties as they arise. Resiliency is an innate trait that all individuals possess, but requires parents to help their children develop through a combination of modeling, support, connection, empathy, assistance with tolerating uncertainty, and teaching problem solving skills.
While all children have the capacity for resilience, some children struggle more than others to “bounce back” from life’s stressors. When assessing your child’s resiliency keep in the mind the following factors that promote and contribute to this innate trait:
- Temperament (sensitive/reactive vs. go with the flow/calm)
- Mindset (positive/growth vs. negative/rigid)
- Adaptability (easy with change/transition vs. rigid/less flexible)
- Problem solving style (approach and conquer vs. withdraw and flee)
- Persistence (determined/committed vs. quick to give up)
- Family Relationships (solid connection with nurture and empathy vs. invalidating and unpredictable caregiver expectations/responses)
- Social Connection (established sense of belonging/acceptance vs. superficial and lack of identifying with a group of friends/peers)
- Passion (presence of specific interests/hobbies vs. lack thereof)
As parents when faced with life’s inevitable difficulties, we need to model for our children tolerating uncertainty, ways to cope with life’s unpredicted challenges, and demonstrate a confidence, positive, and growth outcome mindset.
The phrases I used the most this past year with my children and those I work with have been, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”; “You are tough enough”; “Keep on keeping on”; and “This too shall pass.” Our children deserve praise, compassion, and empathy for all they have endured in this past historical year.
Maria Kanakos, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist