For most of the month since my previous newsletter message, school has been closed because of the Tet holiday and then the directive from the HCMC authorities for schools to operate online until February 28th. With little to report on in terms of school activities, and with students facing the stresses associated with a return to online learning and uncertainty about the potential ongoing impacts of the COVID epidemic on their schooling and academic progress, I thought it would be worthwhile to revisit an article that I penned three years ago about how to foster resilience and success in your children.
The students who have coped best with the challenges in their lives posed by the COVID pandemic are those who are resilient. Resilience can be defined as ‘the capacity to prepare for disruptions, recover from shocks and stresses, and adapt and grow from a disruptive experience”.
As parents you can help your child develop resilience by helping them to:
- Develop a growth mindset. In its simplest sense, this is about having a ‘can do’ attitude. Students who have a growth mindset don’t run away from challenges and the possibility of failure. They understand that with persistence and continued effort they can succeed in the end. This gives them confidence that they can overcome their challenges.
- Be connected. Encourage them to stay in touch with friends, family and their teachers. This gives them a sense of belonging and social support, and thus a sense of security.
- Talk to you about what they are going through. Talk with them about what they are experiencing and feeling. This will help them to process what they are going through and give you the opportunity to challenge any unrealistic thinking and help them look at the situation in a broader context and keep a longer-term view.
- Be positive & confident. Encourage them to keep things in perspective and keep an optimistic outlook. Talk with them about ways that they successfully coped with challenges in the past. This will help them develop a “survivor mentality” and the belief that they can and will get through current and future challenges. Help them find and do things that they are good at. This builds confidence and makes them feel positive about themselves.
- Set goals and take steps toward achieving them. This gives them a sense of control and the belief that by making choices and taking action they can bounce back from life’s challenges.
- Understand that change is a part of life. This is a reality for everyone. Remind them that they have already coped with many changes in their lives – one of the biggest being moving from primary to secondary school, and for some, the even bigger change of moving to another country – and that they can and will cope with future changes and challenges.
- Practise self-care. Teach them the importance of eating properly, exercising and sleeping well. This keeps them balanced and helps them deal better with stressful situations and times.
While there are many things you can do to help your child develop resilience there are also things that you should also try to avoid. In particular, try not to be a ‘helicopter’ parent constantly hovering, ready to intervene whenever your child faces the slightest adversity or challenge; or a ‘bulldozer parent’ smoothing the path for your child and doing everything on their behalf. Now that they are in high school, developing into young adults, take a step back. Allow them to develop independence and resilience by letting them take responsibility for solving problems and overcoming challenges.
Sources and further reading:
Mark Vella – Deputy Executive and Secondary Principal