Keeping connected while social distancing can feel impossible. Schools and favorite places are closed. Daily life looks different and can feel uncertain and stressful. I find that many of us are looking for inspiration and enjoying reminders of goodness, especially now. And if you’re anything like me, you might take a little wander now and again into a magical land where flowers laugh and the sun always shines.
Recent days have reminded us that change on the outside creates change on the inside. It’s important to pay attention to the part that is harder to see — our internal process as we make sense of change on the outside. This is one of the primary reasons why I created the Be Ready Explorers, a subscription for children ages 5-12 years (a guide for discovering, exploring and growing emotion-fully). I wanted an all-in-one resource where children could explore the world, get to know notable explorers and inspiring role models, and most important, learn about the journeyer (themselves).
While there are many different types of adventures that we’ll continue to be part of, some things will remain true across all of them. For example, language gives meaning. Words are absorbed by the mind and shape the way we make sense of experiences, ourselves, and others. What we tell ourselves and others matters and creates changes on the inside. In fact, some research shares that positive affirmations, for example, can help decrease stress, increase well-being, improve academic performance and influence behavior change in people.
As we navigate these challenging times, we know It’s important that we give children the facts. The way we talk about the facts is also important. The messaging can be focused on safety. “We’re staying in our house because that is the safer thing for us to do right now while doctors and scientists are working hard to find more answers about keeping healthy. And we’re so lucky we know what to do to keep ourselves safe right now, like washing our hands.” Using language for safety-based messaging helps children continue to see adults as those who help keep them safe.
In my move to teletherapy, I’m also learning new ways to weave in opportunities (from afar) to use language to prime areas of the brain necessary for emotional regulation. A couple of these new ideas for keeping connected during social distancing —
Growing a gratitude garden: I have always been struck by the power and initiative shown by a seed to bring forth a process of growth. When you blend this with gratitude…whala…growing a gratitude garden! Children have been sharing their gratitude garden drawings with me across our touchpoints. “Here is what I’m growing in my gratitude garden…” and “Today I planted three things I am grateful for!”
Rising rainbow: I decided to pull some from my book, The Day the Sky Felt Full (back in stock soon!), and children are joining me as we imagine we are drawing or following a rainbow. Together, we breathe in as we raise our arms and hands wide above our head. “Today I think of something amazing that can happen…”
Another constant across all adventures is that even when we’re apart, we can find ways for being together. I wanted to share two new resources (complements of the Be Ready Explorers during our launch pause) to help with keeping connected while social distancing. One is for younger children, Explorers Everywhere — just print and children can draw and write answers to questions about themselves and share their ideas and dreams with a good friend or two via email or the mail. Friendship Adventure can be used by older children and adults to map out an important friendship — think about how you first met, things that have helped you get closer, and times when things got tough.
Spells of time where we can focus on connection and take pleasure in extra moments together, even from a distance! Young explorers can create their own sunshine and tape to their front door or window as a symbol of keeping connection a habit (another idea for a possible community or neighborhood window walk). Be sure to snap a picture of your unique sunshine and post it on your feeds with hashtag #brightsparksofready (and tag @kristintenneyblackwell so that I can see your creation, too)!