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Dad and son watching a storm roll in on the beach.

Supporting Kids, Building Resilience

A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I packed up and headed to the beach. I warned the kids it may be a short trip because there were rain clouds looming, but I figured a few minutes of fresh salty air would be worth the fuss. The beach is a place full of giggles, adventure, and serenity for our family. I prepared them for the rain but did not expect strong gusts of wind to develop. The wind was so strong it blasted bits of sand that felt like shards of glass stinging against our bodies.

Right before the change in weather, I called the children to come to me so we could head to the pier, about 10 to 15 feet from where we were standing. I saw the panic on my youngest daughter’s face as she ran over to me. We couldn’t believe what was happening. We huddled together as I hoped the wind would die down and my body would shield them from the blasts of sand. We were probably there less than a minute, but it felt much longer. The kids were scared. It would hurt to move toward the pier, but staying put was not an option either. Between their tears, I gave them direction of how to get back to the pier together. Their emotions were high, yet my oldest daughter quickly assisted with leading her brother and sister to follow my directions. Her tone was one I had never heard from her before. There was a strong confidence coming from her in the middle of the chaos. We made it safely back to the pier, and somehow, my youngest was still holding his ice cream cone.

It was an experience that we will never forget and revealed so much about each of us. From the moment we were off the sand, we began to process the experience differently. My youngest daughter needed lots of hugs and affirmation that we were safe. It lingered on her mind for a few days following. She was still processing the event while coloring her earth day paper. She told me that the red on her legs in the picture was where she was hurt from the sand, and she made bandages to fix it. My son repeated several times to anyone who would listen, “The wind pushed the sand! It was very strong!” “The wind hurt us.” My oldest daughter was able to articulate her fears about the experience and felt proud as I affirmed the character I witnessed. We brainstormed together what we would do differently if we were in that moment again. We were thankful to be home safe from the wind and sand.

I recognize that I cannot shield my children from all the worries of this world, but I can find footing in preparing them for life and taking time to notice who they are becoming. This event taught me new things about my children – from how they respond in high stress situations to how they process scary things. Their resilience shined though in different ways. My role is to see their strengths and vulnerabilities and provide support and guidance as we grow together.

Be sure to check out CHKD Community Connection’s webinar, Helping Young Children Manage Emotion, Friday, June 18, from 12 to 1 p.m. Register at CHKD.Org/Classes.

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About Jeane N. Liburd, MA, CCLS

About Jeane N. Liburd, MA, CCLS Jeané Liburd has worked in the field of child Iife since 2005. She earned a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and is trained in play therapy. She currently serves as an adjunct instructor for Liberty University. Throughout her career, she has provided services for children and families in various settings including hospitals, pediatric hospice, and community programs. The focus of her work is supporting children and families who have experienced illness, grief, and loss.