Commentary: We are resilient, and our kids can be, too

By Karen DeRasmo

Resilience. It’s a term that we often hear these days when it comes to our children.

By definition, it means “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”

During this pandemic, children have needed to be resilient, as they’ve dramatically changed almost everything about their daily routines. Limited interaction with their extended family and friends, cancellation of activities and virtual schooling are just the tip of the iceberg.

Many times, with change, especially unexpected change, anxiety settles in. As parents and caregivers, helping children cope with their anxiety and relieving their fears can be difficult. There are many useful tips for parents, including listening without judgement, talking through their fear and providing them with the confidence that they can overcome these changes.

However, as parents and caregivers, we are understandably experiencing the same feelings as our children. We’ve also made dramatic shifts to our daily routines, leading to increased stress and anxiety. Being a caregiver during a pandemic is no easy task. We, too, need to find ways to be “resilient” and manage our fears and stress, so we can be there for our children. We are role models, and how we cope during these challenging times will affect how our children manage their worries.

Here are a few things we can do as parents and caregivers to ease our own anxiety:

• Focus on what you can control. There remains a lot of uncertainty day to day and that can lead to frustration. Focusing on things you can control, including your reactions, helps alleviate disappointment.

• Self-care is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves as caregivers. That means taking a few minutes for yourself each day, regardless of the circumstance. Balancing work, virtual learning, managing a home, etc., does not leave much time but seek a few moments for yourself. Read, walk, watch TV, talk on the phone, pray, meditate or do whatever makes you happy. Stay active, engaged and connected.

• Be flexible and go easy on yourself. Modify your daily activities to meet the current reality of your situation. That might mean the bathroom will not be as clean as you normally would keep it, or the laundry gets finished another day. That’s OK. Focus on what you can accomplish, not what you are unable to do.

• Lastly, focus on gratitude. Even in the most difficult times, there is something to be grateful for. It could be birds chirping out the window or that the rain is watering the plants, but look for the bright spot in each day. The positive focus will detract from the difficulties.

Know when to reach out for help for yourself and/or your children. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. For resources, visit the Prevent Child Abuse Delaware website, pcadelaware.org. Or for immediate assistance, contact:

• The Delaware Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, (800) 292-9582 or iseethesigns.org.

• The National Domestic Violence Hotline, (800) 799-7233.

• The Delaware COVID-19 Support Hotline, 211 or coronavirus.delaware.gov.

• The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Hotline, (800) 985-5990.

We are resilient and we, along with our children, will navigate through the upcoming months just as well, if not better, than we have previously. Our children need us, and with the grace and support of our communities, we can do anything.

To learn more about Prevent Child Abuse Delaware or to make a donation, visit pcadelaware.org.

Karen DeRasmo is the executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Delaware. She has been with the organization for over 25 years.