Cyclone Debbie: building resilience in our children

Co-founder of Paisley Park and early childhood specialist, Katarzyna Wieczorek-Ghisso, is passionate about sharing her personal and professional early childhood knowledge with Paisley Park families.  Here she provides comment about Cyclone Debbie, how it can effect and influence our children and how as parents, we can provide support and guidance.

As I reflect on our most recent natural disaster, Cyclone Debbie, I think about the impact of that experience on children emotionally. Whilst for most the Cyclone came and went, with minimal devastation to their home or neighbouring community, the anticipation of ruin, sadness and loss is enough to shudder the core of any child. Natural disasters are a reality in today’s world, especially those residing in vulnerable communities, hence we can and should be focused on nurturing coping skills in our children, especially if we are to prepare them for stressful events. Dr Justin Coulson agrees, resilience building in children is imperative if we are to build their emotion capacity and deal with difficult situations throughout life. In his new titled, ‘9 ways to a resilient child, Dr Coulson states,

“One of the most pernicious myths about resilience is that we are either born with it or we are not. Harvard researchers argue that resilience is a combination of qualities we are born with and capacities developed as we live and experience life. Yes, there are some differences in the way people respond to adversity. But to actually develop and strengthen resilience, being born with it is not enough. We need to go through difficult experiences. Carrying a load can, and doe, make us stronger”, (p.11).

Our response to the recent disaster in QLD has not been ‘business as usual’, rather we reflect with children and engage them in discussion about their own experiences, thoughts and ideas about what occurred, the impact on their families and the wider community. Children have been drawing, painting and recreating stories across our centres as this has given them a much-needed emotional outlet as well as grow social networks opening important channels of dialogue. Being about to talk about things is therapeutic. We therefore encourage you to be open with your children about the happenings in QLD, some of which remain ongoing, regardless if you were effected or not, for this provides valuable teaching for all generations.

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