The advent of mobile connectivity and social media places new demands on parents to teach children how to fear. Learning how to fear is an important life skill in a cyber-powered world that hypes anxiety and shame-inspiring experiences and thoughts (i.e., bullying, sexual exploitation, and a tendency to believe that others are living a better life than you, that you are not enough). Learning how to fear requires a disciplined mind to maintain an empowered perspective in response to an alarm or threat. This capacity to check fear against a well-informed mind is learned by example.
And now with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic this lesson is accelerated to a more advanced level because the concern of the threat and uncertainty of this contagion is communicated widely and with great intensity via media. So it is important that you ask yourself the following questions:
- How do you perceive this pandemic crisis?
- What do you know about it?
- In your mind, is it the end of the world?
- Or is the pandemic an opportunity to learn something about your inherent capacity for resilience?
You must be honest with yourself about your own anxiety level so that you can reframe your perspective in ways that empower you to take proactive action and grow in your own confidence to be a trusted resource for your children. This is how we as parents can model resilience.
In some ways, building a resilience response to fear and anxiety is like arm wrestling with yourself to surrender your deep-seated desires to be in control of people and events, and instead put a stop-loss on worry. Remember, worry is negative goal setting, which floods your brain and mind with negative and anxiety-inspiring thoughts that drain your mental energy needed to respond well. When we allow our own anxieties and fears to inform our mood and attitude in response to a contagion, then our children will for certain become insecure.
Learning how to fear well
Fear is not learned. It just happens. Our brains are wired to detect and respond to threats. It’s the limbic system in the brain that tells us to run, fight or freeze when something life threatening happens. Learning how to fear well, that’s another matter. Learning to fear well requires a person to learn how to take responsibility for their own thoughts and actions in response to threats and negative experiences, and put them into perspective. And this capacity to acknowledge a threat or a concern and respond in an appropriate, measured way is learned behavior. This is critical thought leadership and it must be modeled. In order to do this, we must understand that emotion (fear, anger and anxiety) carry no intellect…these emotions just respond no matter what. These emotions are not the facts unless we choose to agree with them. And often an anxious state of mind can become a habit, a way of being. Unchecked, anxiety and fear can compromise your immune system. This means that as parents, we are the thought leaders in the home and the quality of our thought leadership impacts the health and well being of our children.
Steps to check your own anxiety about the pandemic
- Take time to get educated. Study the science.
- Follow the guidance of the CDC, and prepare some “house rules” about washing hands and social distancing and any other advice you believe is important to enforce. If you live in a home with a person who is has a vulnerable condition, then your house rules will be stricter about social distancing.
- Once you are well-informed, ask your children what they know about the pandemic and what do they think about it. Compare notes. Share resources. And come to agreement on the new habits for your home until the danger has passed.
The children will be alright if we as parents choose to reflect hope in response to adversity. This is what it means to be resilient in a world of risks and rewards. The adverse experience does not dominate your state of mind; rather your empowered state of mind informs your fear.
- To learn more, go to: Fresh Start and purchase your manual to create a family culture of resilience.
- To book a phone or skype appointment for parenting and family life coaching support, contact Joanna.
About: We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. Our mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device.
Peace on earth begins with peace at home.
YOUR DONATION HELPS THIS CAUSE
Core Connectivity is an initiative of Banana Moments Foundation. When you shop at Amazon via AmazonSmile, Amazon will make a donation to Banana Moments Foundation.
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and consultant on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber-powered world. She is a former technology executive trained in behavioral science at U.C. Berkeley, a mother of two grown sons, and an author of books for practical guidance on parenting, growing up and family life in the network culture. As a family and technology culture advisor, Joanna has appeared on 103.9FM The Fish, 710AM Keeping Faith in America, 1380AM The Answer, and Examiner.com.