By Amy Morin
This year has definitely tested everyone’s mental strength, including children’s. Emerging research is clear that kids are struggling during the pandemic. The lack of social activities, the constantly changing rules, and the uncertainty about the future can take a serious toll on their well-being.
It’s also a great opportunity to help kids learn how to build mental muscle. Every day, you’ll likely have real-life teachable moments that can help kids practice coping strategies and exercises that can help them become better versions of themselves.
Change can be tough. And sometimes there’s not a lot you can do about it. You might find yourself with a new stepfamily. You might have a new teacher or coach with different rules. It’s natural to want to resist change at first. But trying to stay the same when the world around you is changing can only make things worse.
How much trouble do you have dealing with change?
Whatever change you had to face, you probably struggled to get used to it at first.
Here is why change is so hard: Change is scary.
You don’t know what’s going to happen when things change. Will life get better? Will things get worse? If only you could know the ending when you’re at the beginning.
Change is uncomfortable.
Having a new routine, following new rules, or being in a new place feels uncomfortable. Nothing is easy or automatic.
Change can be sad.
Doing something new often means you are leaving something behind. You might feel sad about the memories you won’t have with you in the next part of your life.
Here are some ways that change can actually be good:
Trying new things can be exciting!
You can try out a new hobby. You can even learn a new language. Doing new things can add spice to your life.
Doing something different teaches you a lot.
You can learn a lot about yourself, other people, and the world when you are dealing with a new situation.
You’ll meet new people.
You can meet a lot of cool new people if you are open to new experiences.
It might make your life better.
You might think life is good now. But there’s always a chance that it can be even better when you try something new.
A lot of good can come from adapting to changes in your life. But sometimes that is easier said than done.
But when you’re faced with a change, it’s important to act bravely! Face your problems head on! The best way to solve a problem is by creating a great plan.
The “STEPS” method is one of the best ways to make a plan to deal with a problem.
Here’s what STEPS stands for:
- Say what the problem is.
- Think of 5 potential solutions.
- Evaluate why each solution might be good or bad.
- Pick one.
- See if it works.
Here’s an example of how STEPS can work to solve a problem:
Say what the problem is.
I’ve been staring at my math homework for twenty minutes. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.
Think of five potential solutions.
- I could ask one of my parents to help me.
- I could tell my parents I don’t have any homework.
- I could call a friend for help.
- I could ask my teacher for help tomorrow.
- I could say I lost my paper.
Evaluate why each solution might be good or bad.
1. I could ask one of my parents to help me. This might be good because I could get it done tonight! This might be bad because my parents don’t always understand what my teacher wants me to do.
2. I could tell my parents I don’t have any homework. This might be good because I can play video games instead of staring at my paper. This might be bad because I’ll get in trouble for lying. And my work still won’t get done!
3. I could call a friend for help. This might be good because I could get it done tonight! This might be bad because my friend might not know how to help me either.
4. I could ask my teacher for help tomorrow. This might be good because my teacher will know how to help me. This might be bad because I won’t have it done before class.
5. I could say I lost my paper. This might be good because it will get me out of doing my work tonight. It might be bad because I might get in trouble for lying. And I’ll still have to do the work!
I will call a friend for help.
See if it works.
My friend wasn’t home. So I’ll try asking Dad for help instead.
There are many different ways to solve any problem. But before you jump in and try to fix something, take a minute to think about your options. It’s okay to think of some creative solutions. It’s called brainstorming. Even if they seem a little far-fetched, write your ideas down. Coming up with more ideas will help you arrive at the best solution in the end.
If you practice, you can get better at solving problems. When you are more confident, then you will adapt to changes better!
Strong kids embrace the changes in their lives. They work on adapting to the things going on around them instead of resisting them. The next time you’re struggling to adjust to change, focus on these exercises that will help you think big, feel good, and act brave!
Think big: In every bad situation, there might be a bright side. Look for the silver lining!
Feel good: Name your feelings. It will make good feelings stand out, and it will take the sting out of bad ones.
Act brave: Tackle your problems head on by practicing the STEPS to problem-solving.
Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker, instructor at Northeastern University, and
psychotherapist. She’s also the editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind, the biggest mental health
site on the internet, and the host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She is the author of the
international bestseller 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, 13 Things Mentally
Strong Parents Don’t Do, and 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do. She gave one of
the most viewed TEDx talks of all time and was named the “self-help guru of the moment”
by The Guardian. She lives in Marathon, Florida. 13 Things Strong Kids Do is her fourth book. You can visit her online at www.amymorinlcsw.com
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