The resilience of our children in unprecedented times

Last updated: Apr 1st, 2020

On the 20th March 2020, I sat penning this article as our world entered a period of unprecedented change, as the COVID-19 virus threatened to interrupt all areas of our day to day lives. Even now, this piece is being published 10 days after writing it because of these very interruptions.

Adults and children alike are having to adapt their way of thinking and our resilience is being tested in ways we could never have anticipated.

Families are stepping in to help each other, we’re being creative with the ways in which we fill our time, and today (the 20th) children in the UK face the reality that schools are closing for a prolonged period. Couple this with the uncertainty of how long COVID-19 will go on for, and our resilience is being tested on all levels.

One thing I’ve found myself astounded by is the resilience of our children. Their young minds are being cluttered and fuelled by a whole host of contradicting information – a lot of it, quite frankly, is daunting to say the very least – yet they continue to shine and flourish.

I listen to my own children and I’m very aware that they’re silently preparing themselves to help conquer this and join our newly-formed army across the UK.

“If we’re forced to stay in Mum, we need to set a structure to our day,” says my 14-year-old son.

“We need to have a bit of a lie in, but we all need to get up to share breakfast together; we need to take turns in running an exercise hour; we need to cook together. Perhaps we could have an hour where we all learn to paint or something, and we should hug more.”

There’s something exceptionally uplifting about hearing these words from a child. Many of our adult friends continue to offer words of support, but it’s our children that really force us to lift ourselves and look optimistically to the future.

Our children are confident this will end sooner rather than later. They’re not fazed by isolation and they’ll always have their friends around them, whether that be face to face (social distancing style) or via FaceTime. And the fact of the matter is they’ll always continue to be optimistic and smile.

After working with school groups for many years, I’m aware that the adoption of resilience teams and programmes in schools is a growing trend.

Providing children with a clear pathway and opportunities to build resilience will ultimately enable them to grow and develop into confident young adults; young adults who are supportive and appreciative of others.

And this resilience often comes from travel. Many children go on holiday with their families, but it’s that time away from their loved ones that really tests them. It doesn’t have to be a big, elaborate, 2-week adventure. It can be a weekend camping with their Scout or Guide group, a night away on a school trip or a short break with their sports team. Whatever it is, they’re away from you, and that forces them to be their own support system.

They’re faced with challenges that only they can overcome. They’re empowered with making their own decisions. They’re encouraged to take healthy risks. And it’s these things that help create a ‘bounce-back’ mechanism – a thicker skin – which they’re putting into use right now.

I find it hard to believe my son would’ve said the things he said if he hadn’t have been exposed to these types of ‘away from home’ experiences. So whilst the whole concept of travel seems so far away now, it’s not gone. Someone’s just hit the pause button.

We need to be as resilient as our children and wait for that big ‘bounce-back’ moment, because if travel helped build us up, we can build travel back up.