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Uncertainty and Resilience

By: Michele Tryon, CCLS

CHKD held a virtual parent chat last week with parents, educators, and childcare professionals. There were questions about the impact of shelter in place, social distancing, and cancelations on children. There were thoughts and concerns about re-opening and the economy, as well. One parent stated, “It is all just so uncertain and if I’m uncertain I know my kids are too.” We all share a need for safety and certainty. I’m sure we can all think of times when the unexpected happened, and we somehow managed to get through. We humans are resilient.

Let’s start with certainty. What can we be certain of? The sun will rise, the rain will fall, the flowers and trees will grow and so will our children. Our children will continue to grow and develop wherever they are planted. This historically significant event will become a part of the fabric of their childhood. They are not taking a break from childhood. This is it.

We are here together experiencing this pandemic. Our responses are as varied as our faces on the Zoom platform. But, here we are. The question is, how can we help our children learn and grow from the experience? Can we use the challenge as an opportunity to help our children grow, teach positive coping, and foster resilience?

Resilience is the ability to bounce back despite adversity. The root word is Latin, resiliens, the act of rebounding. Have you ever tried to push a beachball underwater? No matter how many times you push it down, it pops back up. So how can we help our children tap into their resilience reserve and bounce back from all the uncertainty this pandemic has created?

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Help them put their experience into words. They can write a book, create a poem, journal some insights, or tell you a story. Creating a narrative engages the logical part of the brain and helps make the experience more manageable.
  2. Focus on strengths. When they feel powerless to control the world around them, they can focus on and master a skill. What can they do well, or practice and improve upon? The effort and creativity will give them a sense of competence and something to look forward to each day. Try cooking, music, or drawing.
  3. Be there with certainty. Tell them and show them that they can count on you. When times are uncertain, they need to know you will be there no matter what. Let them know, “We are in this together. I am here for you.”
  4. Ask for their help. Provide them with opportunities to help around the house, or in the community as restrictions lift. What can they do to help others in need? One of the most powerful ways to build resilience is to connect with others and feel like your efforts make a difference.

For more parenting resources and ideas on supporting healthy growth and development in children, visit

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About Michele Tryon, CCLS

About Michele  Tryon, CCLS Michele Tryon, CHKD community outreach coordinator and parent educator has worked with children and families for 30 years, providing services in the hospital, home, school and community setting. Michele is a Certified Child Life Specialist, a Certified Positive Discipline™ parent educator, a nationally recognized trainer/consultant for Nurturing Parenting Programs™ and co-author of The Nurturing Program for Parents and Their Children with Special Needs and Health Challenges©.