34 Ways to Build Resilience in Your Kids
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34 Ways to Build Resilience in Your Kids

We hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe. It’s the understatement of the year to point out that these are difficult times. Everything has been turned upside down: health, relationships, finances, day-to-day routines, and futures. The more anxious we feel about any of this, the more the rest of it is impacted. The last few weeks have made all too apparent that now, more than ever, we need to be resilient in the face of all the challenges, not just for ourselves, but also for our children. We need to be able to bounce back from the changes life has brought us. If you’re feeling particularly depleted (and hooray if you’re not!), here are some tactical ways to build your resilience and your children’s resilience by feeding your body, head, heart, and spirit. Try to choose at least one idea from each bucket every day.

 

Body

We all know how important it is to exercise, get plenty of sleep, and eat healthy foods. Doing it isn’t always so easy, so here are some helpful sites and suggestions.

  • Walk. Get moving! Even if you take a 15-minute walk in the morning and another 15-minute walk in the afternoon, you’ll boost your endorphins, get a little vitamin D, and get a break from all the news. Word has it that even in shelter in place locations, people are still allowed to go outside. If for some reason you can’t, that’s no excuse not to walk. Fun anecdote? Carl Goldman, one of the early people quarantined in a hospital room, still managed to get his 10,000 steps in every day, even though it was only seven steps from one side of his room to the other. Really. No one has an excuse.
  • Dance. There are tons of dance videos for kids out there. Here’s a fun Zumba video with kids to get you started.
  • Yoga. Again, there are so many yoga videos for kids that you’ll have fun exploring them together. Think how much better you’ll feel with a little stretching and deep breathing!
  • 7-minute exercise. I have to admit this 7-minute exercise routine is a go-to favorite, especially when I’m on the road. Every hotel room has plenty of space, so your living room will too. The question is whether you’ll be able to keep up with your kids.
  • Groove. Bollywood Groove is offering free virtual dance and story classes for kids and Bollywood workouts for adults. If you’ve never done a Bollywood workout, you’re in for a crazy treat!
  • Sleep. This is about rejuvenating. Seven hours is the minimum for adults. More for kids. Here’s the best kept secret about enough sleep: it BOOSTS your immune system significantly! Don’t believe me? Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker could be the most important book you ever read.
  • Body scan. Do you have trouble falling asleep? This body scan podcast from UCLA can be magic to help you relax your body. It works for kids, too!
  • Stay hydrated. The simple act of drinking plenty of water can help you stay healthy.
  • Keep washing your hands. Where have we heard this before? Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you . . .

 

Head

Yes, your kids are busy with homework, but there are lots of ways to stimulate thinking in addition to cracking a school book. In fact, kids benefit from not doing homework but still doing brainwork–especially if you’re doing it with them.

  • Read. You knew we’d start with this one. Reading for fun not only stretches a child’s world, it also takes her or him into another realm where they can temporarily forget the stresses of this one. If you don’t have the budget to buy books, then the library is your best friend. Many libraries are closed these days, but you can still access ebooks and audiobooks for free even if you can’t physically go to the library. Of course, we’ll suggest that you start with Pack-n-Go Girls Adventures and slip away to places around the world where you only need to think about ghosts or lost treasures or saving pink dolphins. When you finish with this series, here are some more great book suggestions.
  • Listen and read more. A number of book distributors are working with publishers to offer ebooks and audiobooks to libraries for free for a limited time. Pack-n-Go Girls is offering our ebooks and audiobooks through Mackin. In addition, Findaway, which is the primary source all the major audiobook distributors use, is offering free audiobooks for library use for a limited time. Have your school librarian check with their source for acquiring audiobooks. Pack-n-Go, of course, is part of this giveaway as well.
  • Jigsaw puzzles. If you don’t have any, Goodwill usually has lots for next to nothing. Puzzles are a fun way to get everyone in the family involved. You can do it for two minutes or spend the whole evening. The cool thing is that the benefits are greater than you think.
  • Home school supplements. If your school is on top of challenging your child with on-line learning–great! If not, try this site for more activities. Publishers Weekly has also compiled a great list of ways publishers and children’s authors are stepping up and giving. Of course, Pack-n-Go is contributing to this effort too.
  • Coloring and activities. Now through the end of April, Pack-n-Go is giving away the PDF of Color Your World. With 70 pages filled with entertaining activities and engaging illustrations to color, it’s the perfect way to keep kids busy when they’re home with extra time on their hands.
  • Learn a language. There are a number of free apps and websites that help you learn a language from the first words to brushing up on your college language study. Duolingo even has one geared for kids to learn Spanish or French–and it’s FREE!
  • Draw. Kennedy Center Education artist-in-residence Mo Willems is leading an afternoon doodling session every day at 1 p.m. ET for the next few weeks, showing readers how to draw his iconic pigeon and piggie.
  • Games. If you don’t have any, you can always find games at Goodwill for a fraction of the retail price. Your kids will love it if you play with them. Even a simple deck of cards can keep kids entertained for hours. Anyone for Go Fish?
  • Virtual tours. Go to the zoo or check out the earthcam. This site is loaded with free ideas to expand your child’s world.
  • Create a craft. This site has tons of ideas for you to do with your kids or for them to do on their own.
  • 100 ways to play. The Boston Museum has come up with a terrific list of ideas to play together.

 

Heart

We get the whole idea of social distancing, but we’d much rather call it physical distancing because the last thing we need right now is less contact with people. Even though there needs to be space between us and others, doesn’t mean that we stop connecting. In fact, if there’s anything positive that comes out of this pandemic, it’s that most of us appreciate connecting with others and are being more deliberate about ways to do it. When the world shifts back to something more normal, we hope this is a pattern that stays with us.

  • Virtual meetups. Schedule a time on FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or any social media app to connect with people. For kids, the time can be short. For adults, it’s lovely to connect over a virtual happy hour that often stretches beyond.
  • Calls to grandparents. Think your kids are going a little crazy? Imagine what it must be like on the other end of life to suddenly feel cutoff from the people you know and love. Even a five-minute call feels golden.
  • Send a video. Capture two or three minutes on your phone to send to a loved one. Whether your child is learning to ride a bike, sharing what she or he is learning on line, or you’re capturing the chatter at dinner time, videos let you share a bit of your life and are a reminder that life doesn’t stop.
  • Pets. This may not be the moment to take on an additional responsibility, but your kids can still benefit from other people’s animals. Do neighbors have a dog that needs walking? The local animal shelter still needs volunteers. Check with them about what their arrangements are to keep everyone safe, and then go play with some kittens.
  • Baby animals videos and photos. You’d be surprised at how much joy you get even from just photos. Youtube is loaded with baby animal videos. Where do you want to start?
  • Volunteering. Giving gives back. It also helps you focus on something other than your own challenges. Whether it’s bringing groceries to someone who can’t get out, helping a neighbor with yard work, or baking some cookies to give to a homeless shelter, there are lots of ways to volunteer. This list will get you started thinking.
  • Snail mail. A text or an email to tell someone you’re thinking of them is always appreciated. Because snail mail is so rare these days, it’s even more special. Send a postcard to someone you love, whether that family member lives a thousand miles away or that friend who lives across the street.
  • Cook. Find some simple recipes to make with your child. They’ll love the time spent with you even more than the food itself. Here are some kid friendly recipes to get you started.
  • Give. If you’re fortunate enough not to have to watch your budget these days, contribute to a food bank or a soup kitchen. Surprise a neighbor or friend with a bag of groceries. Your heart will get back more than you give.
  • Music. Whether you make it or just listen to it, music has restorative power.

 

Spirit

We all need ways to nourish the soul, especially now. It’s important to take time for yourself, model the behavior for your children, and teach your children how to take care of themselves.

  • Prayer. If you have a faith to draw on, you already know how calming prayer can be. Set aside time during the day, whether it’s five minutes a day or five minutes an hour, and find solace in how it replenishes you.
  • Meditation. This is a powerful way to relax and become centered. Even just 10 minutes a day will make a difference in helping you to calm yourself. Here are four free meditation apps to get you started.
  • Gratitude. It’s such a simple value to draw on. And yet the very act of being grateful reduces stress. People who practice gratefulness tend to be happier and less depressed. Before you get out of bed in the morning and before you fall asleep at night, think of three things you’re grateful for. It might be health or family or sunshine or reducing the mountain of laundry instead of growing it. Counting your blessings on a regular basis will lift your spirits.
  • Beauty. It’s so easy to forget the beauty around us when we’re stressed. But like gratitude, finding moments of beauty in every day life–whether it’s a splash of color in a field of dandelions or a breathtaking array of clouds–look for beauty. Create beauty where you can. Invite it into your life.
  • Letting go. This might be the most challenging of all. “Normal” has changed, but life goes on. What are your expectations of normal that you can let go of for a few minutes, for today, for the future?

 

What’s your favorite way to build resilience for yourself or your kids? Share it with us and we’ll share it with others.

Our hope for you is that you stay healthy and discover your inner strength in these difficult times! ~Janelle & Lisa