Which Character Skills Can The COVID-19 Crisis Teach Our Kids?
The schools in Hong Kong continue to stay shut in an effort to contain the coronavirus crisis and keep our kids safe. While the majority of schools and teachers are doing their best to impart education through online lessons, there is a critical responsibility to shoulder for us parents too at this stage.
We need to use this time to teach our children something far more important than Mathematics, English, and Science. The current crisis can be seen as an important opportunity to imbibe crucial character skills in our young ones.
Let’s take a peek into which character skills can be developed:
Hong Kong has seen more than 11 weeks of work from home/ online school scenario. Not easy by any standards, but it is important that as parents, we model the right behaviour and keep a lid on our emotions, especially in front of our children. We should aim to exhibit a positive attitude and calm demeanour to imply to our kids that no matter what’s happening outside (uncontrollable), we always have a choice how to react (controllable). Not only can we choose our reaction, we can control the degree of kindness that we show to others, and we can control what kind of emotions we share with our friends and family over the phone. The more positivity we see and the more gratitude we show for the things that are still going right, the higher is the degree of resilience that gets embedded in our kids’ impressionable minds.
Humanity has been pushed to a corner in the current crisis. We see images of people struggling to get a meal, to find medical help, especially in countries that are resource-deficient. Instead of only seeing the ugly side of it, we need to shift our focus on showing our kids the deeds of some of the good samaritans. Also, take a cue from those magnanimous hearts and try doing something with your kids at your own level. Donate things that are no longer being used by your family, purchase kits for the needy, volunteer your time to create a fund raising campaign for an NGO. It is our duty to return to the society and cooperate with the wider world to make a difference.
This is a really good skill to develop at this time and is relatively easy to master. We just need to help our kids create a routine and have them repeat the steps continuously day after day. Or at least for 21 days, as is suggested by some experts. Older kids can be asked to break down their day into 3-4 big chunks and set targets they want to accomplish by the end of the month. The sense of accomplishment when they achieve their goals will leave them thrilled, with the added bonus of having gained self-control and time management skills.
Becoming Passionate and Dedicated
Research shows that self-improvement or inability to do beneficial tasks like learning a new language, writing a book, picking a new skill etc. is not because of lack of time or rigid time schedules. It is because we lack the burning passion for that skill. If we are really serious about mastering a beneficial skill, we will put our heart and mind to it, no matter what. Sit with your children to help discover their passion and you won’t have to nudge them anymore to prioritise it.
Ability to Work for the Greater Good
There’s no doubt that staying at home is challenging. Many people complain of being bored and aimless. But we all need to trade a little of our freedom for the greater good of the society. The Management Principle that comes closest to this theme is “subordination of individual interest to general interest.” This principle states that whenever one has a conflict of interest in any organisational situation, the general interest of the organisation must be served and not personal interest. In a way, you can also teach your kids about the importance of teamwork.
Cooking is an essential life skill. It is something you need for self-preservation, self-sustainability and helps you save a lot of money. Allow the kids to venture into the kitchen and help them learn the basics of cooking alongside. They will definitely feel sense of reward when they completely cook a meal on their own and don’t forget to appreciate their efforts, big or small.
Importance of Real Human Connection
Feel free to allow your kids to have long talks, deep conversations with friends over the phone, or Skype / Zoom. Not only this will teach them the importance of friends and family, it will also embed in their psyche that life flows best when it’s shared with others. You need a human connection to live a satisfying life.
Gratitude and Appreciation
Yes, we can’t go out much, and we can’t smell the fresh rain, the lovely flowers every now and then. When you do venture out for a hike on a less crowded spot, reinforce in your kids the value of connecting with nature, and express gratitude in front of them for the breath of fresh air, for a whiff of cool breeze, for the simplicity and beauty of it all.
Educate kids to use this time to learn about themselves. Have them do things they may have not done earlier. Offer them resources to facilitate various hobbies. You can say something like “See what you and your body is capable of. Social distancing is very difficult but it can also teach you a lot about yourself.”
Value of Money
Dan Scholey, COO of Money Management app Moneyhub encourages to teach young minds about money. He says “We shouldn’t underestimate a child’s ability to understand and engage with finances.” This is the time we can show our kids the importance of buying only what we need, the responsibility of running a family on a tight string. Let the kids also interact with grandparents and the older generations in your families. Sometimes, grandparents have stories to share around how they overcame adversity with restricted resources. It is key for young ones to understand that limited means doesn’t imply failure. The earlier a child understands the value of money through positive messages from parents and caregivers, the higher is the probability they would turn into smart money managers.
Every crisis, every dark cloud brings with itself a silver lining. Our kids look up to us for our reactions to situations, our moods, our state of mind and it impacts them at several levels. Let us continue to model the right behaviour and make use of this opportunity to impart character skills that will help them sail through not only the current crisis but future challenges as well with ease and grace.