As adults, we understand that, through a little effort, we can work to buffer some of the inevitable stressors that come along with the COVID-19 pandemic. And, that’s an important lesson for kids, too.
Kids will have to deal with challenges in their lives that come along with physical distancing, social isolation and staying home – as well as the impacts of any financial changes in their families. Yet, we know from years of research on resilience, that children can adapt and continue to develop in healthy ways through such challenges.
To reduce the impact of stressors and adversity, we can all play a role in supporting the presence of protective factors.
Protective factors are made up of a variety of experiences, people factors and environmental aspects that all come together to help a child have the best chance of normal or positive outcomes after traumatic events.
An important protective factor includes creating an environment in which they feel safe and secure, both physically and emotionally. Other factors include:
• Interactions with caregivers that are sensitive and responsive to child’s needs (e.g., doing a shared activity with your child)
• Ensuring basic needs are met (e.g., food, shelter, medical care)
• Attention to children’s emotional needs (e.g., support emotional regulation – by talking about feelings and sharing ways to deal with emotions) with ample reassurance as needed
• Keeping up with routines around sleeping, eating and free-time
• Promotion of social connectedness to other children and adults (e.g. video chats, and online interactive social activities)
• Caregivers that are supported and follow their own self-care (e.g., reach out for help when needed, take care of one’s own mental health)
Remember that a child’s protective factors and resilience are developed by parents, other caregivers and communities – so no one person or parent needs to do this alone!