Building Resilience Among Children
Updated: May 26
Let’s Face It
The Internet, the TV, social media, friend and family are the many sources of information from which children learn about the facts of life. At the moment, television screens are blaring the effects of the pandemic exposing our children to information and news we want to keep away from them. We want them insulated from the bitter truth and there’s nothing wrong about it. We do it because we want to protect them, we want them to be happy. However, it's sometimes best we ease them into the harsh realities of life.
Hard as it may seem, we need to tell our children the truth, so that they may be ready for the eventuality, the ultimate truth of life that we may pass away one day; that every day we live, we are closer to this end; that for every breath we take, we pay back in lost time. Considering the daily death toll in India due to COVID 19 infection, it is time we rose up to it and tell our children to stand up to this harsh reality of life bravely. We need to tell them to be strong and resilient so that when they are face to face with this contingency, they do not falter.
How do we do that? Spiritual guidance and creating a strong bond with your children is one of the ways to do that. We need to tell them that we are always with them, no matter what. We need also to tell them how to cope up, in case we are not with them. We need to make them understand that our absence from their lives is a reality they must face, sooner or later. The earlier they recognize this fact, the easier it will be for them to deal with our permanent absence.
What to say to them then? We may take the following steps to boost their courage and morale. While doing the following do not guarantee success, they will definitely help you get closer and have a meaningful conversation.
Have Meaningful Conversation: More often than not, we condescend with children, believing they do not understand our world. We believe that they would better not partake in ‘adult affairs’ like death, money, life, relationships etc. Start including children in these conversations. Give them a sense of belonging in the adult world. Share with them the goings on unsettling the world or your world. Having conversations about them with children builds confidence as they feel like grown-ups who can contribute to the conversation meaningfully. So stop patronizing them and start sharing.
Positive Thoughts: Infuse positive thoughts. However cliché as it may seem, it does help. Having happy thoughts and a good laugh does help stay strong on the face of depression. To guide yourself and your children to positivity, take help of self-help books, or better still religious texts, like the Bhagvad Geeta, the Bible or any other text that you find suitable. Do not try to read the entire text. Read and recite what is relevant. Go to a specific chapter and discuss the teachings with your children. This can provide immense help to yourself and your children during hard times. I’ve done it with my child. From personal experience, I know it helps.
Meditation: Show them how to meditate. Explain its benefits. For example, meditation can give you composure followed by a clear vision of what is and what may be, in some cases. It takes your brain to the theta state. When you go to this theta state every day at a fixed hour, your intuition, your ability to solve complicated problems go up, giving you a feeling of wholeness. Tell your children about it. Do it together. Use chants to help you go into the meditative state. When the entire family does it together, singing chants, as sense of calmness envelops you. So go ahead, give it a try.
Build Mental Resilience: Mental resilience comes with a strong body, and a strong body leads to a strong mind, helping us ward off unwholesome feelings and thoughts. When you have it, fear cannot overpower you; anger cannot cloud your vision; greed cannot lead you astray; sloth cannot delay success; and pride cannot fool you. To build mental toughness, we have an arsenal of weapons: mediation, laughter, positive thoughts, and lastly but most importantly, physical exercise. I call exercise the most important because we are physical beings. The healthier the body, the stronger the mind and the spirit.
Talk about Death and Disease: We kept it for the last because it is the most difficult to do. More so if we are dealing with the death of a loved one. While talking about diseases may come easy if you are a doctor or a well-read person, explaining death for many, can be a daunting task. One moment a person is with us, the very next moment they are gone. This is hard to explain. Tell your children that the absence of that person can never be filled again. It is a finality that we must face bravely—that is the only solution we have.
The pandemic has brought us to this reality when we cannot avoid talking about death with our children. But we need also remember that they will come out as a stronger generation that has faced the scourge together. This togetherness is a solace that children can use as a strength. One or two warriors may fall, but together as humanity, we will become stronger and braver.