At the end of 2019, most of us were looking forward to 2020. We eagerly anticipated all the wonder, opportunity and new pursuits a new year brings.
However, we never saw the circumstances of 2020 coming. By March, the wonder had disappeared. Instead it turned to anxiety, which turned to fright, anger and distrust.
Is it even possible to look forward to this new year while we are still in the depths of 2020's pandemic? My answer is a resounding yes. Hope, opportunity and good cheer await this year. Resiliency is a wonderful thing. As we move forward, we must learn to capitalize on our resiliency. Adults struggle with it, but children thrive in it.
I am blessed to work with children and adolescents. That may sound odd to some, but I do consider it a privilege and a blessing. I have seen firsthand the resiliency of the children. Many of the children I work with experience despair and heartache the likes of which most adults never see. They often are not lucky enough to come from a caring family; instead they come from families that have been broken by drugs, abuse and selfishness.
But the common characteristic most of them show is resiliency. Once they are provided, direction and love they begin to behave like the children and adolescents the rest of us are familiar with. They learn to learn, show respect, achieve in school and thrive.
To achieve this change, most think it takes an army of psychologist and social workers to provide the impetus. What I find interesting when I talk to these kids is they usually attribute their changes to a caring aunt or uncle, neighbor, school teacher or coach who have provided some extra time, teaching and guidance (all code words for love and caring). Let’s face it, most of us are in a position where we can provide the love and care to others. You can help by doing the following:
Teach kids to achieve in school
Teach them to do their homework and to read. You don’t need to worry about all the reasons why they don’t want to be successful at school, create an expectation and then reinforce the heck out of them when they meet or make attempts to meet the expectation.
Teach them to be respectful
This is a learned skill with practice. Teaching kindness, the use of caring words and how to apologize are all great skills children need to learn. Creating expectations and practicing the skills are great foundations. Creating expectations that children use the skills is equally important.
Teach traditions and rituals
Most of us look back on our childhoods and realize our traditions and rituals make up a big part of who we are. They help us create an identify and help us build foundational relationships with our family and friends. Think of how many of your memories involved a holiday or an event and the way you celebrated or observed a birthday. These rituals have a lot of therapeutic value and can be very powerful in influencing your outlook on life.
The Scandinavian word "koselig" doesn't translate well to English, but it essentially means coziness, warmth and happiness. It describes their positive outlook on life despite the cold of winter and the long dark days they experience. They take the time to celebrate the little things; they take the time to live in the moment and enjoy. They celebrate everything and embrace the activities to help the celebrations, whether it is special decorations, pajamas or a special recipe of hot chocolate. They learn to look forward to these little things and the anticipation becomes real happiness.
As we move into 2021, I am excited about many things. I am excited about the fact that many families have learned to be happy about things that were never given a second thought before. For some, thankfulness about toilet paper, bread yeast and Clorox wipes gave way to gratefulness for family and friends.
Mostly I am excited about the resiliency of this generation. They are making it through some very difficult times, which will yield very strong citizens. Things will slowly move back to what was normal or a close approximation of it. I hope we cling to the skills and appreciations we learned during the pandemic.