Managing Fear with Soft Skills: Developing Resilience

COVID-19 has ravaged the lives of billions, destroyed the economy and take out hundreds of thousands of innocent people. It’s also created an unprecedented level of fear and anxiety in our lives. The uncertainty surrounding the exam questions, “When will this be over? Will our lives ever be normal again?” has taken its toll on each of us and our children.

The Toll of COVID-19 on Our Mental Health: Building Resilience in Trying Times

Many of the parents that I know have recently begun commenting that the pandemic has impacted their mental psyche in ways that they barely recognize, let alone understand. There’s a new level of malaise and disenfranchisement that’s brewing. That feeling is very much akin to the horrible reality of a dog being cruelly chained to a peg. Initially, the dog fights. Over time, the dog accepts his bleak reality and stops fighting. Then stops trying.

For our own sake and for that of our children, our relationships, our businesses, our employers, we need to find a way to shake it off. To build resilience, to dig deeper than we ever have before. And it ain’t easy!

 

Children and COVID-19: The Impact on Their Education and Development

Our children are scared, too. The older ones have endured #collegeinterrupted, but the younger ones have suffered so much more. They’re experiencing #childhoodinterrupted. From the loss of rites of passage like prom to yearbook signing to school sports and playing together at recess, society has effectively paused – and, potentially stunted – the development of a whole generation.

Children are confused as well as anxious. They can feel the tensions in the household, particularly in the growing number of food insecure households: pre-COVID, 20% of children in this country ate only what they were served at school because they were going hungry at home. As parents lose their jobs, burn through their savings, struggle to keep up with rent or mortgage payments, the dynamics in the household begin to shift, impacting not only the children’s well-being but also their future career opportunities.

There was already a dramatic equity gap prior to the onslaught of the pandemic. Now, decades of systemic racism and opportunities lost have forced parents to make unimaginable choices – go to work at an elder care facility or fast-food restaurant to keep up with the bills at the risk of becoming infected or stay home with no income. As many as 10 million children in the US have no internet and millions more have no tablet, laptop, computer or mobile phone to engage in online learning. How big will that equity gap be three years from now? In five?

Will students without means ever be able to “catch up?” And what about the parents who are struggling to keep up with the schizophrenic-like policy updates coming from their school Boards? School administrators are doing their best, let’s all agree on that point. To be fair, none have ever served as leaders during a pandemic, until now. Strong leadership is crucial during times of crisis, and school administrators are being called upon to lead their schools and communities through unprecedented challenges.

It’s not just a national crisis – it’s a global crisis – and the world is woefully ill-prepared to manage through this long-term. Short of accepting a de facto “it is what it is” cavalier attitude towards the virus, it’s still unclear what the best path forward is. As soon as one country claims victory (i.e. New Zealand), that victory is dissolved with the resurgence of another outbreak.

Parents want to do what’s best for their children. But how do you manage childcare if your child’s school is currently advocating (which is subject to change at any moment) for hybrid learning with some awkward days-on-days-off campus schedule complemented by a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning? How do you even plan for that? In contrast, other schools have wholly embraced virtual learning – for the year – despite the overwhelming complaints that students aren’t getting the “quality” education that they are accustomed to with in-class learning.

Children are longing for missed friendships and unsure about how to make new friends in this virtual world. They’re confused about what their futures will look like.¬†

The Challenges of Parenting During a Pandemic: Juggling Jobs, Home Schooling, and Childcare

Parents are trying to hold it together, balancing their own fears of being exposed to the virus directly or through their children, suffering through the horror of seeing their child infected, dancing on a tightrope keeping their household coffers high enough to pay the bills and trying to juggle childcare, eldercare, home schooling, jobs and family obligations. Any one of those aspects on their own is a big nut to crack let alone juggling them all at once and for month after month: end date unknown.

Resilience: One of the Most Critical Soft Skills

We need to build resilience in our children and ourselves – one of the most essential soft skills in these trying times. We need to forgive ourselves given the pressures that we are under. We need to move forward with compassion and empathy, understanding that our children, our colleagues, our partners, our bosses and everyone else may be struggling with the same issues. We’re not really talking about it as a community or offering support to each other. Instead, we’re bantering about politics, debating about wearing masks and other topics that are pulling us apart versus uniting us against a common enemy – the novel coronavirus.

For humanity’s sake, for our own, and for the future of our children, we need to all dig a little deeper and recognize that we’re not in this alone. It’s okay to feel anxious and overwhelmed. It’s okay to reach out for help. Together, we can learn resilience – the strength of the human spirit is incredible. And we can coach our children on how to be resilient, too. Let’s attack this awful virus by spreading compassion, kindness, empathy and helping those around us to build resilience. It’s time to put aside our differences and move forward together, as humans.

#resilience #softskills #compassion #bekind #empathy #steerus 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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