While pandemic parenting is a first for all of us, we probably agree that our kids, families, and communities are showing an incredible ability to adapt. From digital learning and Zoom extracurriculars to drive-by parade celebrations, virtual and distanced activities are helping our kids move forward and create unforgettable memories.
Yet, despite our most creative efforts to help our kids cope, there is no escaping the loss this virus is inflicting. We talk about adjusting to a new “normal,” but we know there is nothing normal about any of this. No matter how resilient our kids may seem, the disappearance of their previous normalcy and routines is a very real loss and likely leaves them feeling like they have little control.
So then, how can we continue to help our kids cope and gain back some control? We can start with a question we ask each of our new Kids Boosters: What breaks your heart? I know, it may seem counter-intuitive to ask a question about sadness when our goal is to increase positive coping. But at Kids Boost, we believe in looking to our sadness as a powerful way of unlocking a sense of purpose. We see empathy as an incredible, underestimated superpower—one that can help kids explore and take control of feelings, make them more aware of the experiences of others, and inspire them to want to make a difference.
We also believe that giving kids a choice in how they choose to help others allows them a greater sense of control. Not only do we ask kids what breaks their heart, but we also ask: “What makes your heart happy?” We help them brainstorm how they can use the things they love (their passions and talents) to positively impact a situation that breaks their heart. They get to be in charge and help others in a way that is both fun and meaningful to them!
In the short time since schools closed in March, Kids Boosters have used their love of basketball, dance, gymnastics, baking, art and soccer to host virtual fundraisers positively impacting situations that break their hearts. These kids have raised over $12,000 (and counting) to feed hungry families, help care for sick kids, and get masks and care kits to essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis. How incredible is it, that even in the midst of a pandemic that has taken so much away, kids can take back some control simply by using what THEY love to help others?
Throughout this time, kids will continue to be kids. They will continue to be resilient, creative, fun, and adaptive because kids are amazing. But they will also inevitably feel some sense of loss. Although we can’t protect them from feeling the effects of this pandemic, we can help them navigate their emotions, empowering them to use their own talents and passions to make a difference!