What Is Emotional Resilience, and How Can We Develop It?
The ability to bounce back from tough experiences – and the pain and sadness they bring – is emotional resilience. It’s a skill we all need. It doesn’t mean that we ignore or ‘shake off’ our feelings. Rather, we recognize how we feel and learn from our experiences so we can move ahead in a strong and positive way. As parents, we can help our kids (and ourselves!) develop emotional resilience by practicing certain habits.
We all need to be able to identify our feelings, and then talk about them. This way, our emotions don’t hijack our behavior. For example, it’s normal to feel a sharp flash of anger or a wave of sadness, but we needn’t erupt in a temper tantrum or melt down in despair. Nor do we want to ignore or bottle up our feelings, as this can result in depression and other problems.
We can encourage our kids to try new things outside their comfort zones. Reassure them that it’s normal to feel off-balance and confused when learning something new. And rather than fear failure, embrace it as a natural part of gaining knowledge and skills. Kids love to hear our funny stories about our own failures, and the valuable lessons we learned from them.
Parents can help kids develop their own problem-solving skills and a brave, can-do attitude. This often means resisting the urge to rescue them from frustration, starting at a young age. For example, when your toddler rides her tricycle from the pavement into the soft grass and gets stuck, encourage her to solve the problem. When she pushes it back to the pavement herself, praise her achievement and celebrate her victory! Kids thrive on puzzles, riddles, and mastering new tasks – and they benefit from age-appropriate chores.
We can also model and teach healthy self-care, especially during times of stress. Eat nutritious foods, exercise, practice good sleep and hygiene habits, get out in nature, nurture friendships, be creative, laugh and be silly, have an engaging hobby, and make room for unstructured free time.
Finally, we can teach our children a fundamental truth: none of us can go it alone. We all need to ask for help when we need it, and give help to others whenever we can. Knowing we’re part of a caring community of family and friends builds our hope and strengthens our resilience.
Read the Resilience Guide for Parents and Teachers from the American Psychological Association to learn more.
Media Screens Delay and Disrupt Sleep
Good sleep is vital for growth and development. Poor sleep is linked to behavior problems, difficulty in school, obesity, headaches and depression.
When kids use media devices at (or even shortly before) bedtime, it has a negative impact on both the quality and quantity of sleep. Screen use can delay and disrupt sleep. Kids get involved in stimulating content, or they may be on alert for the next notification. Some even wake up during the night to check for texts or social-media postings.
Studies also show that the light from these screens disrupts our natural sleep-wake cycle. So stop using devices an hour before bedtime, and keep them out of the bedroom. If your child insists they need their device for its alarm, buy an alarm clock.
Learn more about the Effects of Media on Sleep.
Bronchiolitis Is Common, and Can Be Serious for Babies
Bronchiolitis is a common lung infection among infants. It happens when bronchioles – small breathing tubes in the lungs – become infected and get clogged with mucus. Then air can’t get in and out of the lungs properly. It is caused by one of several respiratory viruses, including influenza (the flu), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and parainfluenza. Bronchiolitis most often strikes in winter, and it’s one of the most common reasons for hospitalizations at Seattle Children’s.
The symptoms are similar to a cold: runny nose, cough and a mild fever. Plus, babies with bronchiolitis may have trouble breathing and feeding or nursing. If you suspect your child has it, see your healthcare provider. Home treatment includes frequent suctioning of the nose and mouth. For more serious cases, oxygen therapy and intravenous (IV) fluids may also be given.
The best way to prevent bronchiolitis is the same as for other viruses: wash hands often, and avoid people who are sick. Plus, everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine.
Download our Bronchiolitis Care Packet to learn more.
Elementary School Recess Is Crucially Important
Experts in children’s health and well-being are in strong agreement that children in elementary school need regular, active recess time. In a formal policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) describes recess as crucially important to the overall development of the whole child: “Recess is a necessary break in the day for optimizing a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.
Unfortunately, some schools are cutting back on recess. This may be done in an effort to devote more time to instruction, or to save money on the staffing required to supervise recess. And some schools who do offer recess withhold it as a punishment – a practice the AAP opposes. The AAP’s policy statement also stresses that both physical education classes and recess are needed; neither one can take the place of the other.
According to the Society of Health and Physical Educators, recess reduces students’ stress levels, supports normal growth and physical development, improves social skills, allows students to discover which physical activities they most enjoy, helps develop a lifelong love of exercise, and helps students meet the goal of 60 minutes of daily exercise. Recess also has benefits in the classroom, where it helps to: improve students’ learning and overall academic achievement; increase classroom engagement; reduce disruptive behavior; improve on-task behavior; and improve memory, attention and concentration.
Parents can advocate for all kids by pushing to ensure that active recess breaks are offered for all students. Read Strategies for Recess in Schools to learn more.
Prevent Scalds From Food and Drink
Children ages 4 and under are especially at risk for scald burns from hot liquids. As they explore, they are apt to knock over a cup, grab a pot off the stove, or pull on a tablecloth. They’re also at risk of being splashed by a hot liquid carried by an adult. So keep hot liquids away from the edges of tables and counters – and don’t use an exersaucer or a walker near these surfaces. When cooking on the stovetop, keep handles turned inward and use only the back burners, if possible. Be sure that hot-drink cups have tight-fitting lids, and never hold your child while cooking or holding something hot. When pushing your child in a stroller, avoid drinking hot liquids; use the stroller’s cup holder for cool liquids only.
Learn more about scald burns.
Portions vs. Servings
What’s the difference between a portion and a serving for food and drinks? A portion is the amount you choose to consume, whether it’s a little or a lot. A serving is a precise measured amount defined on the package, like 8 oz. of cereal or 1 cup of soup.
Food labels include nutritional information for a single serving. They allow you to compare the nutritional content of similar food items. Since packaged foods and drinks usually contain multiple servings, to learn the calories (or sodium or sugar) multiply that figure by the number of servings actually consumed. For example, a small bag of chips might contain three servings – but people commonly eat all three servings as their portion.
Learn more at MyPlate, MyWins for Families.
Tweens, Teens and Marijuana Use
Parents should know that marijuana can be used by a few methods, some of which can be easily hidden. It’s still smoked (with rolling papers, a pipe or a bong), and both the dried plant and the smoke have distinctive odors. Vaping uses a liquid product delivered by an e-cigarette or vapor ‘vape’ pen and doesn’t have a telltale odor. Smoking and vaping deliver an almost-immediate high.
Marijuana ‘edibles’ make it easy for kids to disguise their usage, even at school. Because the high from edibles is delayed by an hour or more, users can ingest too much and not realize it until later.
Talk with your child so they understand the health risks, the law, and your family’s rules and expectations. Read A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Underage Marijuana Use to learn more.