In case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve had a lot of change lately! In particular, the rate of technological change has really ramped up. It was already happening, and then the global pandemic accelerated the pace. Many people have started working online and our tamariki have been doing virtual learning.
Amid all this disruption, children and teenagers may be feeling nervous or worried about how this will affect their future. But we can help our kids handle these feelings. Part of learning to cope with emotions such as fear is changing how we think about challenges. And that’s something that will help them now, and in the long term.
HISTORY CAN TEACH US ABOUT CHANGE
Let’s go back a bit, before we go forward. Societies have always faced change. A few thousand years ago, changes led to more organised food production. People started trading. Larger communities formed. Art, language and culture developed as work could become more specialised. New inventions led to the growth of larger settlements and changed travel. History is full of major changes and adjustments. But, over time, people and societies can adapt, and even out of difficult circumstances can create positive outcomes. Now, we face new challenges. But again, people can adapt in positive ways.
WHICH BRINGS US TO…
We’re living through a technological revolution. We’re also adapting to changes brought about by COVID-19. We already were wary of things like screen time and cyberbullying. Now we’re seeing more of how technology can affect employment, life, relationships. Changes can be hard to predict, so we need to find a balance. That includes teaching children how to avoid and cope with potential threats as much as possible. At the same time, we can promote a sense of solving challenges. A positive approach helps children face the future with optimism, not fear. Along with risks, there are many opportunities. It’s exciting!
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LEARNING FROM RECENT EVENTS
As we’ve learned during COVID-19, hope in a better future keeps us going, even in the toughest times. We are all learning, and showing our kids, how to cope with change. We’re developing more emotional resilience. We have an increased sense of community, but in other ways have become self-reliant – and creative! We’re staying hopeful and figuring out ways to get around problems and challenges. We’re also showing our kids the importance of taking joy in simple things like going for a walk and slowing down. Screens can be terrific, but healthy limits and having a balance are very important.
HELPING KIDS COPE POSITIVELY WITH CHANGE
How can whānau help to prepare their tamariki for new devices, software, and innovations? Equip them to cope with change, because it’s inevitable. Help them pass on those skills to the next generation. For one thing, avoid the temptation to ignore new technology. Instead, join your kids in learning and discovering new possibilities. Ask them to show you how things work. Encourage them to ask important questions, such as who’s behind new innovations (and who benefits when they sign up)! Get them to look for opportunities to learn and be creative.
And help them explore the world away from screens, too. Think of fun activities you can do as a family. Help your kids develop interests and hobbies. Teach them practical skills like cooking, doing simple household repairs. As they get closer to adulthood, they also need you to teach them things like how to behave in different social situations. Positive parenting strategies help with all of these things, so reach out for support if you’d like ideas.
It’s understandable that children and teenagers may be feeling concerned after a difficult year. As parents we may not get to see what’s around every corner. But there’s something we can do. We can promote a sense of exploration and optimism in our children that will help them respond positively to challenges, no matter what the future holds.