As the pandemic drags on, you need to be a durable human. Simply being resilient doesn’t cut it anymore. New findings point to why.
White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci wants our response to the COVID vaccine to be as durable as possible.
Arizona Senator Krysten Sinema says only laws with bipartisan backing will be durable.
On Joe Rogan’s podcast, New York University social psychologist Jonathan Haidt spoke of how “parents and teachers should be helping kids develop their innate abilities to grow and learn.” He used “antifragile.”
Lebanese-American essayist Nassim Nicholas says he coined that term because “there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile.”
After a crushing disappointment, it became almost a miracle.
The broadcast journalism grad students from Syracuse University were supposed to spend the summer of 2020 in Washington, D.C. With media credentials dangling from their necks, they’d chase down interviews and comingle in our pop-up newsroom like network correspondents. Then, as for countless other students, their dreams were dashed. Because of the pandemic, the program would be all online.
But they rose to the challenge. Students pitched stories on Slack, did interviews on Zoom, and wrote scripts in Google Docs. We on the faculty fine-tuned the video and audio of their news reports with the powerful Frame.IO. We got the job done.
Although I’ve been wary of digital fixes in the past, I’m the first to admit: our program was saved by technology.
As the world heads into the first full school year of the pandemic, digital teaching tools will be crucial, especially since more than half of U.S. K through 12 schools expect not to return to a physical classroom. “We have to demand that the internet is a public utility and that it is installed for families that don’t have access,” says Merrie Najimy, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
Yet, last spring’s quick switch to online learning has largely been deemed a failure—and kids are still feeling the pain. Pediatricians across the U.S. report an unprecedented number of patients with anxiety and depression borne by disrupted school and home routines.
So what’s a parent to do?
Luckily, we’ve learned from our mistakes. Based on the hard won experience served up on Zoom by boots-on-the-ground parents and education experts, here are 12 ways parents can help their kids do school better:
When the coronavirus shuttered the world, couples and families froze in place. For some, it was an unexpected opportunity to reconnect. Others felt trapped, especially those already in distress and thinking of splitting up. To help them, relationships experts from around the world rushed to createLiving Together, Separating, and Divorcing: Surviving a Pandemic.
American family mediator Michael Lang and Irish book publisher Peter Nicholson wanted to “help families strained by forced confinement and shoved suddenly into reconfiguring their lives by the impact of COVID-19,” says Lang. So he put out the call. “It took about twenty minutes after he sent out a few emails before we got our answer,” according to Nicholson. “Leading mediators and related professionals stepped up to the challenge.”
After more than seventy experts quickly submitted their gratis advice, the book was compiled and published in only three weeks. The e-book is priced at $1.99, the lowest cost allowed by Amazon.
Start with Yourself
Coping with the crisis begins with you. Above all, writes U.S. psychologist and mediator Arnie Sheinvold, “treat yourself kindly.”
To keep your mind, body, and relationships durable, you need the basics of good nutrition, physical activity, and solid sleep. “By taking care of your own needs, you can ensure that you are in the best possible place to take care of your family during this emotional time,” says U.K. parenting advisor and author, Sue Atkins.
Keep tabs, also, on your thoughts and actions. While you may not be able to control what’s happening around you, you can manage your own response. “Don’t be reactive,” writes U.S. psychologist and mediator, Arnie Sheinvold. If you take a breath and remain calm, it’s more likely the family ship won’t capsize in stormy seas.
Canadian family mediator Mary-Anne Popescu finds inspiration from a refrigerator magnet with the words “Conflict is inevitable. Combat is optional.”
Way back B.C. (Before Coronavirus), a chief complaint from kids about their parents went something like this: “All my mom cares about is her phone” or “My Dad doesn’t really talk to me.” For years, too many of us have been in a state of continuous partial attention. Even when someone was sobbing in front of us, we’d have one eye on our phones. But now, confined in the chaos, we have an opportunity: for a parenting Do Over.
First off, we need to know the difference between Us and Them—in mind and in body.
Our kids are worried and anxious, just as we are. But we’re the ones in charge—their Reassurers-in-Chief. They need to know we’re there for them, no matter what.
“Don’t wait for them to
bring it up. Ask how they’re feeling,” advised Dr. Robin Gurwitch, psychiatry
professor at Duke University School of Medicine, on a call with reporters about
the virus and mental health. “That way, you can get a sense of their
understanding, validate their feelings, and correct misperceptions.”
To ensure lots of reassuring face-to-face contact and hugs, we can take a tip from the helpful American Academy of Pediatrics Family Media Use Planner: establish zones in the household and times of day (at least at meals and bedtime) that are free from distractions such as personal technology—theirs and ours.