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COVID pandemic has forced kids to be more resilient, counselors say

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Posted at 8:30 AM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 09:30:47-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It’s certainly no secret the pandemic brought on lots of challenges for our children. Between virtual learning, dances canceled and lost sports seasons, kids had it pretty rough for a while. However, according to counselors, not all hope is lost.

If you’re a parent to school-aged children, let’s find the silver lining.

David Thomas is the Director of Family Counseling at Daystar Counseling Ministries in Nashville. Thomas says while there’s no doubt for many families these past 18 months have been tough, that struggle for our kids is the fertile ground for developing resiliency.

He admits the understanding of resiliency is certainly different today than it even was 18 months ago.

“There are a lot of definitions of resilience out there, one of my favorites is the capacity to feel competent and to cope,” Thomas says. “Our kids have been given a lot of opportunity to cope and to develop competency and hard circumstances… and for all the difficult things we have experienced and continue to experience it's, you know, I think we have to look for a silver lining in this.”

Thomas adds the one upside is that kids have been given greater opportunity than any other time in history to cope and to develop a feeling of competency, which helps build resiliency.

According to the Harvard University “Center on the Developing Child,” resilience isn’t something we’re born with, it’s actually earned over time as we experience and conquer different challenges.

“It's an equation of support and challenge,” says Thomas. “We always want to try to be moving toward both… not one or the other.”

He says it’s important to have empathy with kids, but also challenge them by saying “you have done some of the hardest things you've ever done at any point in your life — like where do you see evidence of that. Where do you feel stronger?”

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Experts from Harvard University “Center on the Developing Child” say to think of resilience as a see-saw we all played on as kids, where the center point is the fulcrum. They point to three ways we as parents can help kids balance the resilience scale:

  1. Unload the negative side by finding support where it’s needed and reducing those sources of stress. 
  2. Load up the positive side by adding up those positive experiences. They say a lot of that is through responsive relationships, and a lot of that is being a supportive parent.
  3. Strengthen those core skills. Things like planning, focus, self-control and flexibility. 

In summation, many experts agree that life is going to throw up curve balls from time to time and it’s how we respond to them that is key to success and progress. We as parents play a big part of that for our kids.