Resilience - Let's Build It! By Lisa Dissinger
RESILIENCE: LET’S BUILD IT! by Dr. Lisa Dissinger, Consulting School Psychologist, Greene Towne Montessori School
After attending a webinar during this pandemic on “Cultivating Resilience and Compassion in an At-Home Schooling Environment” (SEE Learning at Emory University), I realized that as parents, we will also need to build our resilience. We are all feeling worried and uncertain of what is ahead. As parents, we are going to have to work hard at “seeing the glass half full” and bouncing back from this pandemic.
While we are at home with our kids, juggling our jobs, creating a family schedule, and facilitating online learning, there are some simple tools to begin to implement.
Create a family agreement with your child that helps define the new rules at home. Here are a few:
Be helpful to others
Give maximum love to each other
Forgive each other
Appreciate when someone does something for you
Think about how other people are feeling
We need to stress compassion and empathy for others, especially inside of our families, if we are going to be living and learning in close quarters for an extended period.
At least once or twice a day, go outside, even if it is raining. Take walks as “brain breaks” from learning. Notice or pay attention to the sensations outside and talk with your child about those sensations and feelings. What is the temperature? Is it pleasant, unpleasant or neutral? What are you hearing and seeing? The birds are beginning to sing and nature is “waking up”, even the bugs! What can you smell? How does it feel to walk, then jog, then run? Are you breathing slowly or rapidly?
By becoming aware of sensations and tuning into our bodies, we can also teach awareness of how those sensations make us feel. Talk about what those feelings and sensations are. Do you feel happy when you feel warm, hear the birds, see the flowers blooming, walk at a fast clip and breath in the fresh air?
Build a list of resources for each child that helps them feel calm and uplifts them. This is your child’s coping book. These resources can be real or imagined. Pick places, things or memories that make them feel calm and pleasant. These resources could be: playing or hugging a pet, having a dance party, baking or cooking with a parent, bike riding, swinging, being with a grandparent, playing with a friend, reading a book, building a fairy home or watching a favorite movie. Have your child draw a picture of each of these “resources” and make a book by stapling the papers together.. Encourage your child to look at the book when they are feeling sad or upset.
Make sure you develop and maintain daily rituals. Sit and have your coffee while your kids have their breakfast. Pick one or two new yoga moves (via an app or yoga cards) that you can do together with your child. Go out and work in the yard with your child, pulling up weeds or collecting debris. Give them the materials to build a fairy house under a tree! They can keep adding to their fairy house every day. Read books to your child at different intervals in the day. This can always engage their brains and bring their focus back to the moment. Find time to relax, perhaps on towels or mats in a quiet space. Have your child relax with a favorite stuffed animal or blankie. There is a free app called “Breathe, Meditation and Sleep” that might be helpful here. Sing and dance and make art at least once a day as well! Have your child help you cook or bake something for dinner. If not, they can always help set the table for dinner.
Finally, make sure their bedtime routine remains the same. Daily rituals help us stay in the “resilient zone” because they remind us that some things are always there, day in and day out, no matter how much things are changing outside of home.