You may be asking yourself, “Why am I having such a hard time with social distancing?” or “Why is my daughter super anxious, but my son seems perfectly fine?” The answers to these questions lie in understanding resilience. What is resilience? Where does it come from? As part of our ongoing series, Coping During COVID-19, KVC’s Chief Clinical Officer, Chad E. Anderson answers these questions and provides helpful thoughts on how we can build resilience for ourselves and our children. Watch this video to learn more.
Resilience: What It Is and Where It Comes From
Resilience is when a good outcome occurs in the face of adversity. It can be thought of as the ability to overcome and work through difficult situations and life’s challenges. Our genes and experiences both play a major role in the development of resilience. Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child explains it with the visual of a teeter-totter or scale. Like a teeter-totter, when risk factors outweigh protective factors the likelihood of negative outcomes is high. Our genetics initially place the fulcrum, but our experiences (both positive and negative) can move it throughout our lifetime. This impacts the ease at which we can manage stress and cope with adversity.
How We Can Build Resilience
When building resilience in children, the single most important factor is having at least one stable and supportive relationship with a committed parent, caregiver or adult. Having honest discussions with your kids about their feelings during this coronavirus outbreak can contribute to this. If you have small children, here are some great tips from Sesame Street in Communities for engaging with them about COVID-19. This Resilience Guide for Parents and Teachers shares even more ideas. Be sure to find ways to help children and teens nurture their other relationships as well. Use video chat apps and other tools to keep emotional connections healthy during social distancing.
In addition, positive experiences help strengthen resilience by building skills, including:
- executive functioning skills: staying focused, planning/prioritizing, working memory
- body regulation: heart rate, breathing
- emotion regulation: thoughts, feelings
- interpersonal skills and safe resources: the ability to identify and connect with safe resources
It is important to start building resilience early in childhood and throughout our entire lifetime. Adults who strengthen these skills for themselves can better model healthy behaviors for their children. This improves resilience in the next generation. As adults, we know that the future lies within the hands and minds of our children. We want to provide them with every advantage possible to create a world in which every person is safe and connected to a strong family and a healthy community.
Find an overview of the Coping During COVID-19 series and a preview of what we will be sharing in weeks to come here. You can also follow us on Facebook or Instagram for more updates and information. We’re here for you.