Helping Children Through Uncertain Times: Building Resilience ~ by Laura Jaslow

A WFS Faculty Blog post by School Counselor, Laura Jaslow
Published Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

There’s no doubt these are unusual times. The year of 2020 has most certainly pushed some to their limits.    Why is it that some children seem to be taking everything in stride and some are left struggling?  The answer can be due to a student’s resilience. 


Resilience is the process of handling stress and recovering from trauma or adversity.  Although COVID 19 may not seem like our day to day is traumatic, it is definitely something that has changed our lives quickly and drastically in some ways.  More people are working from home than ever before, sports and activities are halted, major life events have been cancelled. 

Resiliency is NOT the absence of adversity.  Resiliency is more about how we get through it.

Are children resilient?

Some children are naturally resilient, however, many require support.  Protective factors can provide a cushion for children so that they may adapt better to adversities.  Supportive communities and influences in their lives are very important.

What are the protective factors necessary to build resilience?

  1. Sensitive, Responsive Caregiving - quality time with a parent or respected adult (even short spurts!). They just need to feel connected.
  2. Meeting Basic Needs
    1. Diet
    2. Handwashing
    3. Exercise
    4. Sleep
    5. Outdoor time
  1. Emotional Support for Children
    1. Reassure safety – With a lot of negative news out there, it’s important to also show children that people are okay!
    2. Routine – A consistent routine with sleeping, eating, and learning is so important.
    3. Regulation - Manage big feelings and make time for check-ins/questions.
    4. Focus on the positive - People are busy helping others these days!
  1.   Support for the Caregiver’s Well-being
  2.   Social Connectedness


What does a resilient child look like?

  •   demonstrates a genuine interest in school
  •   solves problems effectively
  •   assertive and capable of showing initiative
  •   empathetic toward others
  •   responsible and trustworthy
  •   sets and attains realistic goals
  •   maintains a sense of purpose and a positive outlook on life
  •   can act independently (autonomous)
  •   asks for support when needed


What are some warning signs of child who may be struggling with anxiety/depression?

  •   Irritability or anger
  •   Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  •   Social withdrawal
  •   Increased sensitivity to rejection
  •   Changes in appetite -- either increased or decreased
  •   Changes in sleep
  •   Vocal outbursts or crying
  •   Difficulty concentrating
  •   Fatigue and low energy
  •   Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that don't respond to treatment
  •   Reduced ability to function during events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests
  •   Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  •   Impaired thinking or concentration
  •   Thoughts of death or suicide


What can parents do?

  •   Work on fulfilling those protective factors
  •   Regular, daily check-ins
  •   Help teach children coping skills
  •   Ask for help

o   Pediatrician

o   Mental Health Provider

o   School Counselor