How to Build Resilience Amongst Children During the COVID-19 Lockdown
From Nickeisha Thomas, Counsellor at ACS International School Doha
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, June 08, 2020: Across the world, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected us one way or another. In Qatar, as with all other schools in the country, ACS International School Doha has been closed since March under government directive.
In the wake of a global crisis, schools have turned to remote learning techniques to maintain education continuity. With parents and children working from home together, families are forced to cope with major changes in everyday life.
Amidst these rapidly shifting scenarios, it is easy for students to lose perspective. After all, no matter how safe and comfortable your home is, it is hard to turn it into a conducive learning environment.
With a campus in Doha and three in the UK, at ACS International Schools we have been continuously monitoring the impact of the enforced lockdown on all our students. We are conscious of the toll this situation can have on the youngest members of the school community.
My colleague Anneke Theron, Lower School Counsellor at ACS International School Cobham in the UK, effectually captures our sentiments in an article published exclusively in the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, earlier this month.
Anneke highlights that children will undoubtedly be aware of the major changes happening around them due to the pandemic. It is therefore essential that children have the necessary coping mechanisms, such as resilience, within their arsenal to adapt to these changes.
For example, in Qatar, parents like to fill their children’s schedules with extra-curriculars or afterschool activities such as football, ballet, piano lessons, gymnastics, etc. With schools under lockdown and with all other activities halted, children are now spending their time at home and seeking alternate activities to fill their days. This is where parents need to step in and help children adapt to their new schedules, to make the best out of an unfamiliar environment and overcome their adversities through resilience.
It is important to empower our children to talk about their feelings encouraging them to solve their problems, rather than always providing them with the answers. Allow your children to deal with difficult situations or feelings in a natural way, before you take the reins. At ACS International Schools we advocate taking the responsibility to build and enhance students’ resilience in practical, accessible ways – no matter what their age.
An interesting aspect about resilience is ‘bounce-ability’, especially regarding younger students. As Anneke explains, just like the bounce-ability of balls off the floor can be measured such as a ping pong ball, a tennis ball and a clay ball, a person’s ability to bounce back from difficult life experiences can also be measured. This serves as a good analogy – as people are all different and all have different levels of ‘bounce-ability’.
Each student has their own individualized struggle that determines how much they can ‘bounce back’. The important message to children is that perseverance and resilience can improve with exposure and effort and that we all can become stronger.
Ultimately, challenges only increase as we get older and so, we need to develop key life skills, and take unprecedented situations as an opportunity to grow.
Here are some important values that students can embrace:
1) Increased responsibility as children can take on more chores around the house
2) Learning to take educated risks with the opportunity to explore the outdoors with parents
3) Greater patience, when needs cannot always be met instantly
4) Better problem-solving skills, with support from family members
5) Development of empathy and appreciation, as children learn to understand what other people might be going through at this difficult time.
The ability to cope with change and tough situations will certainly stand children in good stead for the future. Change is a part of life and we will all deal with it in our own way; at ACS Doha we champion the belief that by building resilience from a young age, we can positively impact how children adapt to whatever adversities they may face in their futures.
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