How parents can boost resilience and manage stress


This undated image provided by Sesame Workshop shows Elmo and his parents Louie and Mae. Sesame Workshop announced Monday, March 30, 2020, that Elmo, Rooster and Cookie Monster are featured in some of four new animated public service spots reminding young fans to take care while doing such things as washing hands and sneezing. The content, which will be translated into 19 languages, is part of Sesame Workshop’s Caring for Each Other initiative to help families stay physically and mentally healthy during the coronavirus pandemic. (Sesame Workshop via AP)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Almost half of parents report feeling overwhelmed by the pandemic and are struggling to manage their children’s learning.

A survey called Stress in America: Stress in the Time of Coronavirus, Volume 1 was conducted and found that 46 percent of parents feel high levels of stress caused by suddenly managing their children’s learning from home.

We know it takes a village to raise a child and are now teaching ourselves how to do so in unfamiliar isolation.

To reduce stress and trauma caused by COVID-19, international education consultant Jaz Ampaw Farr says its important for parents to work on resilience.

Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, or other circumstances that cause a significant amount of stress. With each stressful situation, people are challenged to respond and move forward.

It’s anything but easy.

“We’ve gotten to a new place where it’s not ‘well-being,’ it’s just being,” Farr tells KTSM from London.

“With everyone being at home with their families, there’s a huge shift. To assume that there’s been nothing different is really a bit crazy.”

Farr explains that the pandemic is a situation that few had time to prepare, and yet millions find themselves facing. She says we’re now in a period of complexity that that presents the opportunity to do something that will create a positive outcome.

“Within all of the chaos and the awful stuff going on, there’s the opportunity to look at things and ask ‘what story do I want to tell about things now?'”

Farr suggests reframing situations to focus on things we have control over, like our response to adversity.

“If you need help, then make a request,” says Farr. “This is not the time to try to imagine doing everything on your own makes you look cool or sensible — it doesn’t.”

Farr says drawing on resources such as a trusted network of friends and family or a partner is the best way to help manage stress. Asking for help — even if you haven’t before — is important because it helps navigate the chaos and teaches children to do the same.

More than anything, Farr says children need three things from their parents before education (at home or in class) can occur:

  1. To feel safe: to not be in any imminent danger
  2. To be well: to have food, clothes, and shelter available
  3. To be seen: to be acknowledged, valued, and have a sense of self-worth

“Kids need to know it’s okay to be you and that they’re loved unconditionally,” she says.

“As parents, we’re not being asked to provide everything: we’re being asked to resort to the stuff that will ensure our children can not only navigate this time, but can navigate future challenges.”

To help build resilience, the APA has these tips:

  • Build connections by cultivating relationships
    • Confide in people you trust who validate your feelings
    • Reach out to people you care about to check-in
  • Foster wellness
    • Exercise regularly to take care of your physical and emotional health; eat well and hydrate; maintain good sleep hygiene
    • Practice mindfulness by journaling, meditating, or other forms of self-reflection
  • Avoid negativity
    • Limit news consumption and social media use
    • Recognize unhealthy coping mechanisms like turning to drugs or alcohol
    • Find resources to help you manage stress

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.