Life is full of unknowns. It is important that children and young people understand this and learn to accept it. The pandemic has highlighted the fact that, sometimes, unexpected and challenging things happen in life. However, it has also shown that we can cope adaptively. Reframing is an important part of resilience and I suggest that parents invoke this strategy with their children, from the earliest opportunity.
The pandemic has forced us to take note of aspects of our lives that we took for granted. We feel more grateful for our liberty and agency over daily activities and for our ability to work and earn money. We have greater appreciation for the importance of teachers, schools and the science of learning.
In the midst of this crisis, we should draw our children’s attention to the power of human ingenuity, the value and importance of scientific endeavour and how our ‘bubbles’ keep us well mentally, as well as physically. Suddenly, we all value and savour each interaction with a friend; these have become more precious than anything else. Nature has benefitted too, from our enforced pause in industry and activity. By reframing challenges in ways that feel more palatable, we can help children through these difficult times. Try to cultivate a strong sense of what we can control, versus what we cannot. It is a bit like squeezing a sponge; try to extract all the good from this tough situation.
As soon as uncertainty arrives, teach your child to seek out the familiar. Where are our anchors? What things will remain stable and unchanging? What can we control? As the world spins around us, we need to become slightly more insular, a little more retrospective and take greater notice of the natural resources that surround us. By taking things one step and day at a time, we teach our children to tread carefully into the unknown. As we model a calm and constructive approach, they will learn to manage any feelings that overwhelm them. One of the trickiest components of the type of uncertainty we are currently facing, is the time factor. The chronology of the unfolding crisis is hard to pinpoint. Will we be in lockdown for longer than six weeks? It is entirely possible. In taking each week at a time, and making it as pleasurable and as productive as we can in family life, we do our best.