Looking Ahead: Post-COVID Resilience
By Mariel Goettsch
It has truly been a year like no other.
While the specific impacts this year has had on each family have been unique, we have all endured a deeply shared experience. I wanted to share a post this month that reflects hope following this heavy-hearted year.
Resilience is not a trait that we are born with, but rather is created out of necessity. It is more of a process – often a messy one – that is primarily developed through experiencing responsiveness. When our children are coping with stress or feeling overwhelmed, having a reliable, supportive caregiver lightens the negative impact of the stressor, and thus children learn how to cope and adapt.
This year has driven us to find or cultivate resilience under the most challenging of circumstances. Luckily, the science of child development points to three do-able ways we can affect experiences and help build resilience.
The first strategy is to lighten the negative load. This is a process of removing barriers to living day to day life with ease. For example, this would include securing safe housing, having a refrigerator full of food, or performing self-care: going for a walk, resting for a minute, or calling a loved one, to support your personal mental well-being.
The second strategy is to increase the positivity factor. One of the most impactful methods for doing this is through development and maintenance of committed, stable relationships. We have been extremely fortunate at All Seasons that we have been able to continue providing in-person learning and social opportunities that have helped to expand the number of responsive relationships in our children’s and parents’ lives. It has been incredible to see the depth of the relationships and bonds these children have formed this past year, and I have no doubt that part of this could be attributed to the year we’ve been through together.
The third and final strategy is to strengthen our core skills. This concept is mostly applicable to the adults or caregivers in our children’s lives. We can practice using our core skills of executive functioning and self-regulation in the face of adversity. We can help ourselves by using technology reminders to lighten our mental load, or creating a schedule and routine for days that are all out-of-whack following a school closing or lockdown order. We can gather the family to regroup and remind everyone of family and house rules, and talk about ways that we can be supportive of each other.
It is powerful to consider that even amidst the unknowns of a global pandemic, many people have come together with an extraordinary outpouring of love and support for each other. One hopeful outcome of this experience may be a massive step in the right direction towards a more connected, compassionate, and equitable society.
It has been a beautiful gift to be a place of refuge and continued growth, development, and pure joy for your children this past year. Thank you for giving us the opportunity!