It's normal to worry about our kids' emotional development during stressful times. But there are things we can do to keep our families hopeful and resilient, no matter what we have to face.
Research shows that secure, positive relationships with trusted adults act as a "buffer" for children against trauma and stress. This means that kids don't get as upset from stressful changes or losses—or when they do, they can make more sense of them and build resilient coping skills.
It can be helpful to think about these big-picture sources of resilience that you can build into daily life. Here are 5 ways play can support them.
1. Practice daily relationship care
What are your favorite ways of spending time with your kids? What activities make you feel connected, like you’ve "clicked" with them, and you are being your true selves? Take some time to reflect on these daily opportunities for building the emotional strength of your family, and try to make them a habit. This could be reading books together, hand-clapping games or playing catch, for example.
2. Celebrate family traditions
Our cultures give us traditions that we can turn to during times of sadness or stress. It may be certain songs, foods to cook and eat together, or stories handed down through generations. We make meaning about events, happiness, and loss through traditions, so think about which ones your family can do. Or make some up and carry them forward!
4. Get moving
Dance parties, yoga videos, or walks around the neighborhood to families are great ways to help cope with stress. Moving our bodies can help improve mood and organize our brains. Bonus: When you start going on regular walks, runs or bike rides with your kids, you’re less likely to hear "I’m booooooored."
4. Lose yourself in the moment
Stressful times make us feel like we need to be on guard, hypervigilant for any threat. It is exhausting, and it’s not necessary. Remember that it’s OK
to let go, play a game or do something silly that has no end-product or purpose other than feeling joyful and forgetting about time for a bit.
5. Mind your own distraction
We all need an escape, but technology can suck us in more than is really helpful. Don’t let mindless screen scrolling "techno-fere" with family time. See what types of boundaries you can set around your tech use, and try to limit the number of rabbit holes you jump down.
Big picture: your family will get through stressful times. Your kids may regress in some areas, but grow in others—and so will you!