The past several months have served as a prime example of challenging times. Within a few short weeks, parents went from busy and connected to long, unscheduled days, socially distanced from friends and family (and surrounded 24/7 by their kids).
For lots of people, this change has been stressful.
Eventually, the pandemic will be over, but even that will be a transition … maybe even a stressful one.
So how do you cope during challenging times? You rely on your resilience.
Parental resilience, the ability to cope with and bounce back from challenges, is one of the five Protective Factors outlined by the Strengthening Families™ Framework, and Dr. Sherry Hamby, Director of the Life Paths Research Center, is an expert on it.
She and her team interviewed hundreds of parents of young children about which strengths they rely on to get through challenges. The researchers found that there were nine common strengths people mentioned as those that helped them be resilient. Most people rely on a few of these strengths to get through hard times; it’s rare, and unnecessary, to have all of them.
An important note: you can build these strengths—which means you can build your resilience. When you do, you’re better able to cope with whatever challenges life throws at you.
Here’s a list of the nine strengths parents said they use to get through challenges, and specific tips for building them:
- Optimism (feeling hopeful about the future)- Optimism can be built through exercise, or any kind of routine, like going to bed at the same time each day.
- Purpose (knowing you have reasons for being on this earth). Purpose can be built by journaling about what matters to you. It can also be built by setting small goals and working towards them.
- Religion/Spirituality (feeling connected to something greater than yourself). This can be built by increasing the frequency of our religious or spiritual practices, like prayer or meditation.
- Emotional Awareness (being in touch with your feelings and why they’re happening). Mindfulness meditation and journaling can help you build your emotional awareness.
- Emotional Regulation (the ability to control your behavior when you feel tough emotions). Emotional regulation can be built through mindfulness meditation or journaling about what matters to you.
- Psychological Endurance (being able to keep going, even when things are tough). Psychological endurance can be built through exercise and setting/working towards longer-term goals.
- Compassion (caring about others). Mindfulness meditation can help you build your compassion.
- Generativity (giving back to your community). Build your generativity by volunteering, or giving to a cause you care about.
- Social Support (being connected to others and knowing you have people to turn to). Build your social support by volunteering and by reaching out to friends for check-ins through text, email, phone calls, and video chats.
Take a moment to consider where you’re strongest, in terms of resilience. Which two or three strengths do you rely on most? Is there one you’d be interested in building? How can you work on building it?
As parents, we’re constantly met with challenges … and so far, 2020 has sent us some significant ones. By building our resilience strengths, we’ll emerge better-equipped to parent successfully, no matter what life throws at us next.
Editor’s Note: look for the Strong Families, Happy Kids column in every issue of Prescott Woman Magazine. It’s designed to support parents with actionable tips and strategies they can use to create optimal environments for their children to thrive. To learn more about Prevent Child Abuse Arizona’s mission and resources visit www.pcaaz.org