I am a silver lining sort of person. There is no doubt that a global pandemic is really, really awful. We have now been home for ten weeks. We have missed celebrating meaningful events and holidays with family and friends; we've worried about our front-line workers and elderly relatives; we've mourned the loss of teams and music groups and volunteer groups; and of course, we've endured the challenges of working and learning from home.
But, what about all that kids are learning during this time? Without the sun-up to sun-down rushing that typically guides our lives, how have our kids filled this time? To me, the silver lining is that many kids are filling their time with acquiring and building life skills! This is so great!
-A few of my patients have learned to ride two-wheelers, probably a few years after they should have! And, older patients who had felt very anxious about learning to drive have embraced this life skill on our quieter streets.
-So many kids are cooking, baking, and gardening. These are skills they will use forever.
-One friend posted on Facebook that her kids built a bike course, a tree swing, and the frame to a car (like one you can drive!). How cool is that?
-There is no doubt that the current generation of parents is more overprotective than our parents were of us (check out http://www.freerangekids.com). This unique time is allowing kids to set off on their own for adventures in their neighborhoods. Yesterday, my kids biked into our little town on their own and navigated buying an ice cream while following all the new COVID rules to keep them and people around them safe. They were so proud of themselves when they got home!
-How about CLEANING? Without a regular cleaning person, many families are scrubbing toilets and changing beds and doing lots of laundry and dishes! Okay, full disclosure - getting the kids involved in this one hasn't been easy in my house (the groaning tends to take longer than the doing). However, the pay-off is huge. Between ages 17 and 30, I did all of my own cleaning. How great that our kids are building the confidence now so that when they head out into the world, they will know how to keep their environments clean and pleasant.
-A major life skill is learning how to BE comfortable with oneself. It is so important to discover how to structure an empty day so that at the end of it, you feel like it was a day worth living. Without their over-structured days, kids are really having the opportunity to learn this skill. Kids are waking up each morning and depending on their age, they need to set their schedule for the day. By this point in quarantine, many kids have realized that endless video games does not feel good at the end of the day. So what does? Kids are learning what gives them a sense of accomplishment, what makes them feel happy, what makes them feel calm and relaxed. To me, this might be the most important life skill of all.
What life skills have your kids learned during quarantine? I'd love to hear!
I am a licensed psychologist working with kids, teens, and adults with anxiety disorders.