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The Benefits of Helping Your Child Become More Agile

There are countless studies on the importance of routine to put a child in a position to thrive. 

But no matter a parent's efforts, COVID-19 has disrupted the best-intentioned habits and schedules. Distance-learning has become commonplace, and youth sports have been interrupted and, sometimes, outright canceled. 

And beyond those examples, there are the many "unknowns" around the pandemic. 

That's why adults must become more agile and teach their children to become more agile, too.

Here are three ways to help: 

Be an example 

Surf social media and you're seeing endless examples of adults panicking. It's a stressful time, for sure, yet handling adversity with calm and grace seems in short supply. 

That's why there's nothing more important to help your child learn the importance of being agile than by watching you. So don't lash out when the school delays in-person learning, or scream at the restaurant employee because your take-out order was accidentally given to someone else. 

So when the inevitable curveball comes, keep your cool — and try to be positive and optimistic. Can't go to the gym for practices and games? Check online resources and figure out how you can work on fundamentals in a basement, hallway, garage, or communal outdoor space. 

Emphasize collaboration 

An important key to being more agile depends on teamwork. Yes, you are the parent. But give your children a voice and invite them to share ideas and solutions to challenges and problems as they arise.

Their buy-in may not be as firm if you just tell them what's going to happen. But if they are a part of the decision-making process, they could more be inclined to go along with the final decision, even if they didn't get their way. 

The more practice they get, the better off your child will be, both in the short- and long-term. 

Based on grace

Understand the first idea or decision may not be the best. These are unprecedented times for many.

“Be creative and be flexible,” says Dr. Rachel Busman, a clinical psychologist, “and try not to be hard on yourself. You have to find a balance that works for your family. The goal should be to stay sane and stay safe.”

These are stressful times for everyone, parents, and kids alike. Plus, many family members are around more than ever. That leads to more interactions, which, in turn, can lead to more testy exchanges. Be quick to apologize, hold your tongue when you want to say something mean, and answer a child's question and say yes to more requests than you say no to. 

Perhaps ask each person in your household to come up with a new game or activity you all can do together. Then try it a time or two. Maybe it's working on a garden, or putting puzzles together, or learning a new instrument.

If no one likes it, move on. But maybe — just maybe! — something sticks.