It is possible to help children cope with unanticipated changes in life, including those brought about by the pandemic. We interviewed Professor Alberto Pellai, asking him valid advice to help parents train the little ones to face the unexpected.
The arrival of Covid-19 has upset everyone’s life. And, in particular, the life of children and young people. But, however great and terrible the risk of the virus is, life is still full of unexpected events. Everything can change and at any time. Having said that, how can we help the little ones to cope with any unforeseen existence?
Alberto Pellai, writer, doctor, psychotherapist and researcher at the University of Milan, e Barbara Tamborini, psycho-pedagogist and author of several texts on the developmental age, have recently written a book entitled Noemi in the storm (De Agostini), a novel with the aim of helping parents to “train” children to cope with life and the unexpected events of this , teaching them that, even at a distance and in difficulties, it is always important to be a team.
The book tells the story of Noemi, a girl like many who suddenly finds herself living a different everyday life, forced to stay indoors due to a virus called Covid-19 which is infecting many people. It is a story of courage and determination.
We interviewed Professor Alberto Pellai, asking him to give us some valid advice to help parents who read Nostrofiglio.it to train the little ones to face the unexpected.
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Helping children learn from the unexpected
“One of the messages in the book concerns the script changes, the misadventures, the adversities that happen to us: in the moment in which they do not break us and shatter us completely, anyway they change us, they transform us, they make us evolve and sometimes they make us even better.
This happens to Noemi and Luca and to the other companions of the story: they do not like anything about the bad script that comes into their existence, but going through it and accepting the challenges that this puts in their lives also means get to a higher level of processing, understanding the new things that have been learned, feeling the desire for what was taken for granted and which perhaps seemed tiring, which – on the other hand – in deprivation becomes very important. It is the case of the school ».
Why is it essential to be a team, especially in difficulties?
“Because this is it the way in which humans have learned to face difficult times and challenges. Evolution has placed within our genetic code the fact that we humans need each other, build relational networks and become a team.
The behavior of humans is different from that of other living species. In the case of animals, it becomes a herd and this leads to the affirmation of the strongest at the expense of the weakest. Humans, on the other hand, learn to team up and in the team the strongest protects the weakest, the most vulnerable.
Faced with challenging events and tragedies, the strength of human beings is that, after being impacted by the wave that hurts them a lot and risks making them feel lost and dispersed, they still find the strength to generate the chain of solidarity, the network of cooperation, the ability to work as a team ».
Tips to train children to face the unexpected in life
Here are the tips of Professor Pellai to train children to face the unexpected events of life.
- «The first piece of advice is for parents: in the storm we must never stop being the “brave captains” of the little ones. We need to have a good monitoring of our emotional reactions, of the words we choose to tell the facts that happen to us, to feel that we are a model that our children are inspired by. If we want to teach them courage, we need to feel that that courage is within us not as a fiction, but as something that we too have learned and want to share.
- The second tip is don’t be alone. Noemi and Luca in the novel are apparently sworn enemies, there is a lot of conflict even for different ages, but slowly they manage to take each other by the hand and live as mutual support. We as parents have to think about who is close to our child, of the same age, who can be supportive and supportive for him in this phase of growth.
- The third is always allow us to give word to what we are experiencing, that we are going through, that we are feeling and experiencing. The book can be a really good example: the crucial passages of the story, the characters, sad, angry or afraid (and therefore evoking emotional states), can help us to open a door to emotional states that we too have experienced with our children. , or that we have seen in our children. We can, for example, say to them: “Did it happen to you too to feel the same anger as Noemi? How did you react?”. And, through the processes of identification with the characters, it is possible to favor the elaboration processes in them.
- The fourth is allow children to feel inside the difficulties, not powerless, but competent, therefore capable of having a power of action. The idea is not only to use the word as an instrument of protection in growth, but to constantly give proposals, to activate the children to do something. This making them feel active, competent, capable of doing things even in complex times allows them not to be at the mercy of events, but able to stay on top of them ».
“Naomi in the storm”
«The book was born with the idea of offering a story to children and adolescents in which to be able to recognize and identify with respect to the many evolutionary challenges who have had to live in this period of emergency.
The little ones thus find themselves in the events of Noemi and Luca, told not only through the facts that have shocked the world, but also through events that those facts (that have shocked the world) have put in the lives of all the children and young people who have seen their existence suddenly changed “.
A. Pellai – B. Tamborini, “Noemi in the storm” (De Agostini)