Over the past few months, Covid-19 has had a tremendous impact on everyone world-wide. It has disrupted our routines, sense of structure, and security. The pandemic has not only threatened our physical health but also our mental health as we all try to adapt to these changing and uncertain times. While we as adults are able to understand the situation, children are struggling during this time, which is why it is crucial that caregivers work to build emotional resilience in children during Covid-19.
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Janny Perez, founder of Mi Legasi, has been working to do just that with her young daughter. Family has always been at the center of Janny’s life from growing up in Miami surrounded by a rich cultural community to becoming a mother herself and starting her family-focused brand, she has always believed in the power of family.
Her company is a brand that offers both clothing and multicultural tools to help parents raise bilingual children who appreciate their Latino heritage. Her work centers around building strong bonds between parents and children through a positive celebration of heritage and her belief in the power of family has only strengthened during the pandemic.
Managing big emotions in children
Children have big emotions for such little people. These emotions are often difficult to handle, even in normal situations. During times of stress and trauma, it can become even harder for young children to regulate their own emotions and you may notice children acting out more and having tantrums. These responses are expressions of their own stress and anxiety.
Many parents, like Janny, have been thrust into new and uncertain territory as they try to juggle quarantine, homeschooling, running a business and just trying to stay sane! They may feel uncertain themselves and may not know how to handle their own emotions, let alone their child’s emotions.
However, having a sensitive, responsive caregiver is essential to building resilience in children during Covid-19. Children depend on the adults in their lives to provide a sense of safety and security. They can easily pick up on stress, anxiety, and negative emotions and will model their behavior after others. Children learn to regulate their own emotions from these models, so it is especially important that parents and caregivers take the time to manage their own stress and emotions in positive ways for children to emulate their responses.
Talking to your child about Covid-19
Adults should also be honest about the situation with their young children and maintain open communication by using age-appropriate information to talk about Covid-19 .
Janny and her husband, Percy, faced this difficulty with their own daughter. Recently turned 5-years old, their daughter was looking forward to her birthday party and to see her friends and family. However, due to the pandemic, the party had to be virtual.
“It was especially hard to explain to her that no one besides mom and dad would be physically there,” says Janny. “As adults we are resilient, but kids are definitely going through a very hard time right now.”
Many parents are having similar conversations with their children and while it may be difficult, having these open conversations, as Janny did with her daughter, will help children develop great resilience and understanding of the situation.
Additionally, parents can follow the 3 R’s suggested by experts of reassurance, routine, and regulation to help build further resilience in children during Covid-19.
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Resilience as a foundation for life
By creating a safe, supportive environment and communicating with her young daughter about the situation, Janny is working to instill life-long resilience in her daughter. This resilience will equip her with the tools to navigate these uncertain times and any future obstacles in life. The major lesson Janny and her family have learned during the pandemic is how to approach unexpected situations with a flexible and resilient mentality.
“This whole experience has taught us that in life you can only plan so much,” Janny says. “Sometimes life has its own plans and you have to be flexible and willing to adapt.”
Though there have been some challenging and exhausting moments, Janny feels blessed to have her husband at home more and they have become a stronger, unified front for Mi Legasi. Additionally during this time they have helped serve their community by making affordable face masks which are available for sale on their site now.
“I believe that if we can go through this now, we can face any challenge or adversity in the future,” she says. “When you’re surrounded by people that lift you, anything and everything is possible.”
And while each day may bring new challenges and difficulties, Janny and her family are taking it one day at a time…”one cafecito at a time.”