Resilience Series Part 5: Fostering Connections

Article at a Glance:

  • Connections play a big part in maintaining health and well-being, especially with the added stressors of a pandemic.
  • While friendships are important, some of the most important connections children and teens can develop are with family.
  • Fostering connections helps builds resiliency, a skill that can be strengthened through practice.

In this series, we’ll be looking at ways to help teach children and teens resilience. It can be difficult to process disappointment, trauma, stress, anxiety, or depression and all of the negative feelings that can come with it. Resiliency will help children and teens deal with these negative feelings in a healthy and appropriate manner. Resilience is a skill, and like any skill, it can be strengthened through practice. 

Humans are social by nature, so creating connections with peers is an important component in building resiliency. With the added stressors of a pandemic, from the unpredictability of school schedules to the isolation of quarantine, these connections play an even bigger part in maintaining health and well-being. 

  • Encourage children and teens to keep in contact with their friends through video chats, phone calls, and texting. 
  • Coordinate with other parents, for younger children, or with your teens to set up fun activities such as game nights, watch parties on streaming services, or plan virtual dinners together.  
  • Arrange study groups for older children and teens to take some of the isolation out of distance learning. 

Marking occasions is a big part of strengthening connections. Help your child use their class roster to make a calendar of each student’s birthday. Creating a hand drawn card for each classmate’s birthday is one way to help your child feel proactive and connected to their classmates.

While friendships are important, some of the most important connections children and teens can develop are with family. 

  • Make time every day to check in with your kids one-on-one. 
  • Organize family activities and plan family dinners. Over dinner can be a great time to talk about everyone’s day and address any issues that came up over the course of the day. 
  • Set up standing times to call or video chat with extended family, such as grandparents. 

Another way to help build resiliency is to encourage a connection to your community. 

  • Take advantage of programs through your local library. Many branches have virtual programming for all age groups and will offer opportunities for children and teens to meet new people while participating in an activity they enjoy. 
  • Suggest a pen pal for your children and teens. In addition to programs that pair up students both domestically and internationally, contacting local senior residences can encourage connection for your children and teens while offering companionship to seniors.  
  • Prepare care packages to deliver to local homeless shelters that include handwritten notes. 

Beyond the social aspect, building connections allows kids and teens to develop important interpersonal skills, such as empathy and critical listening skills. Building connections also helps them to establish support networks they can rely on. These networks become even more important during times of heightened stress and uncertainty.

The more connections that children and teens can create, the stronger their resilience will become. Building connections to family, peers, and community is ideal; however, building any type of connection will benefit them. 

And don’t forget to maintain your own social connections. Modeling your resiliency is the most effective teaching tool you can use.

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