This year has presented parents with an opportunity to teach our children some important life skills. While every family has a unique situation and may have made different decisions regarding the pandemic, all of our lives have been affected to some degree.
COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to teach our children the following important life lessons:
Resilience– Life will not always go as planned and it’s important for our children to learn to adapt to whatever life may bring them. My husband and I have tried our best to show our children that while we may not be able to do things the way we typically do, we can alter our plans and still find things to be excited about. We’ve been honest about our disappointment while showing them how to handle their emotions.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.Philippians 4:12-13
Productive Ways to Handle Boredom– In general, my family tends to live a slower paced life than the average family. Learning to handle boredom and how to manage one’s time is a skill that will benefit our children throughout their lives. Over-scheduling and running around at a frantic pace benefits no one. Perhaps learning to leave margin in our schedule is something we all can take away from this pandemic.
Problem Solving Skills– Children are often great problem solvers if given the opportunity. A few different times during this pandemic, we have talked with our 6 year old about a change of plans from previous years and then as a family, we brainstormed some solutions. My husband and I have been quite impressed with some of the solutions our little guy has come up with.
Patience – Due to health challenges and infertility, my husband and I had to wait nearly a dozen years into our marriage before becoming parents. Because of this tremendous struggle and longing, our appreciation for our children is deep. Human beings have a greater appreciation for the things we have to wait for. There have been times, when my son has said “I really miss going to XYZ” and I say “I know, baby, I do too. When all of this is over, we will appreciate that that much more.” For example, when we can finally go out to our favorite restaurant and enjoy a meal like we used to do so frequently, I know that meal will be one of the best tasting meals ever!
How to be Creative – In addition to strengthening their problem solving skills, children can develop their creativity during this time. I’m a big believer that imagination and creativity develop and grow during downtime and honestly, through boredom. Unstructured downtime is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.
Gratitude– It’s easy to get into the habit of taking things for granted and this pandemic gives us an opportunity to deepen our appreciation for the regular everyday things. We make a regular point to count our blessings and I pray this helps my children to develop a grateful heart.
How to Handle Emotions– This is definitely hard. I don’t know about you, but I’ve personally experienced every emotion during this pandemic. My mental health has struggled and some days have definitely been worse than others. Yet, each day is a new day. My oldest has also had moments, where out of nowhere, he gets angry and says he misses his friends. I’m trying to help him to know that all of his feelings are okay and guide him as he processes all of this. Again, this gives opportunities to say “While we can’t do X, we can do Y instead.” This year, our celebrations have been virtual and while it makes us long for when we can all get together again, the virtual parties have been fun.
To Look For Ways To Help– As followers of Christ, I want my children to look at any difficult situation and ask themselves “What can I do to help?” On an age-appropriate level, we have talked about how people are sick, others have lost their jobs and how some people don’t have food to eat. We’ve gathered up food from our pantry and we’ve also made financial donations to local food pantries. We’ve collected masks for foster families and prayed over laptops that were given to the ministry for foster children to use with digital learning. Each night we also end our prayers by asking God to be with the people who are sick in the hospitals.
Being immune-compromised, we’ve been on the receiving end of people’s kindness and generosity as well. For many weeks, our friends had to do our grocery shopping. This gave our family the opportunity to experience God’s hands and feet at work through His people.
To Find Joy in the Simple Things– Life is guaranteed to have trouble and hardships. If we can teach our children to find joy in the simplest of things, they will be stronger to weather the storms life may bring their way. For us, we always try to have something to look forward to. This can be something as simple as movie night as a family or roasting marshmallows over our fire pit in the backyard.
As parents, we set the tone in our family. If we are content, joyful, serving others, and expressing gratitude while being real about our feelings and emotions, our children will do the same. Let’s use this time in our lives to model and teach our children important skills that they can use throughout their lives.