I started my career working with children and youth nearly 10 years ago and I’ll be honest, I never imagined I would enjoy it as much as I do. I have learned so much from young people and have taken an interest in finding ways that we, as adults, can help support them as the world around us becomes increasingly more dynamic. In today’s blog, I am giving you 5 ways to do just that!
It is so beneficial to know some strategies to help young people build resiliency and increase their capacity to navigate challenging times. We live in a complex world with factors such as social media, peer pressure, isolation from the global pandemic and so much more, all of which are contributing to those developing brains.
Below are a few points to keep in mind when having conversations with children and youth in order to help them feel safe when certain things may come up for them.
It is never too early to get started on this one. Allowing children to discover their own self-care strategies will empower them to explore what works, continue to keep a thumb on the pulse of when they need more of it, and what keeps them feeling balanced.
Talk About Change
If you are able to “front-load” any major changes that might arise for a child, try to take the opportunity to do so. This could mean a big move, change of school, switch up of a family dynamic, anything that is predictable. Help them understand that change comes with growing up and the anxious feelings that come with the unknown are okay. If a sudden change happens, be sure to discuss the various ways they may feel and how to express them in a healthy way.
Don’t Shy Away from “Body Talk”
Through conversation, help children to understand their bodies; what it needs, what makes them thrive and what doesn’t work for them. Talk about nourishment, illness, the importance of movement, and how to be in tune with signs and symptoms that something is wrong. This will help them appreciate how the mind and body are connected and find ways to empower them to understand how they work.
What does anxiety mean for them? How does it make them feel? It could be a stomachache, tightness in the chest, sweaty palms, etc. Talking through it and identifying what causes it can allow for opportunities to find strategies that could help with self-regulation during anxiety-provoking times.
In a time with so many distractions at our fingertips, it is important to prioritize some connection time with young people where organic conversations can happen. This will allow adults to have regular check-ins and create space for some uncomfortable, unsettling, or more difficult topics to be addressed. Some ways of implementing that into everyday life can be creating “screen-free” times, such as the dinner table, a walk through the neighbourhood, or an hour before bedtime.
It can be a scary and lonely world out there with so many unknowns for our younger generations. Finding ways to help make things more comfortable with some learning and coping can be a key to helping them build the groundwork to work through things and thrive!