Fighting the invisible damage of coronavirus on our children

There’s no argument that there has been a significant economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, writes Hon. Prof. Mike Conway. This fall out can be shown in graphs on the news or financial reports, demonstrated by our shrinking bank accounts or evidenced in sky-high unemployment rates.

But what about the damage that’s unable to be seen?

Whilst mental health has been a constant background hum in the discussion around the coronavirus, one thing becoming more apparent to experts is that related lifestyle changes and uncertainty can be especially damaging to children and young people, placing them at risk of mental health issues[1]. Adults are certainly not immune to this either.

2020 has delivered unprecedented causes of anxiety and stress for many people. Catastrophic bushfires across Australia, a global pandemic which claimed lives and shut down the entire country, more job losses, and protests around the world have resulted in an increase in exposure to violent scenes.

Add to that the fact that schools closed, households went into lockdown, many parents suffered financial stress, and loved ones were at risk of becoming ill. It’s easy to see that young people have experienced more negative influences in their lives so far in less than a year than some would have previously experienced in a lifetime!

The evidence is emerging that this is likely to put many at a higher risk of negative mental health outcomes.[2] It’s also important to recognise that in times of uncertainty, some young people look to parents for guidance and leadership and it’s likely that right now, that their own parents are feeling vulnerable.

What we can do to help support our younger generation and their parents.

The work we do at XVenture has always been focused on providing rich learning experiences to develop more emotionally agile and resilient people. This includes individuals and teams from business, elite sport, schools, universities and even families.

Looking ahead to a post-COVID world and considering all we know about the effects this pandemic is having on our young people, we believe it’s possible for a shared learning experience between parents and children to equip both with skills, tools and understanding necessary to forge a positive path forward – both with their private life, and with school or work.

People who are most successful in life, are those who are able to foster great relationships in all areas of their lives – whether that’s with family, with friends, with colleagues or people we interact with. To get those great relationships we need to be able to communicate, collaborate and most significantly, build trust. What we’ve learnt over the years in our research is that those people who are most successful, generally have high levels of emotional agility, resilience and leadership (EARL) qualities.

It is for these reasons that we created Nuts and Bolts of EARL, a free online resource for parents, carers, teachers and coaches to use with young people. Nuts and Bolts of EARL encourages positive conversations around leadership, teamwork, skills and techniques for developing resilience, confidence, job readiness, dealing with bullies and even the importance of getting good rest! It is our way of contributing in a positive way during a difficult time.

What is EARL?

  • Emotional Agility (EA) refers to our internal and external abilities to perceive and respond to the world. EA includes: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Empathy, Social Skills and Motivation.
  • Resilience is how quickly we move past disappointments and use them as part of a learning process for future success.
  • Leadership is our understanding of how and when we take a leadership role, or when we encourage others to take a leadership role.

Nuts and Bolts of EARL is filled with content to inspire and educate young minds including; videos, articles, podcasts and activities, plus exclusive insights from inspiring athletes and business minds globally. The resource features important lessons that are essential to the growth and success of youngsters in the modern world including; practical tips and tricks for future job success, how sleep deprivation can impact our ability to function and a podcast on using EARL skills to deal with bullying.

Through the creation of Nuts and Bolts of EARL, we’ve provided the opportunity for open communication, collaboration and positive social interaction. The resource can be utilised by teachers with their students; and parents with their children, spending time watching, reading and actively participating in each section.

Hon. Prof. Mike Conway (UOW) is the CEO and Founder of XVenture, and Emotional Agility and Mind Coach to elite sports teams and individuals. His qualifications include: BA Hons Pub Admin (health) (UK) Diploma in Health Services Management (UK). MBA (UK) Diploma in Clinical Hypnosis and Strategic Psychotherapy. Certified Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute.

Nuts and Bolts of EARL is available to teachers, parents and coaches globally and suitable for ages 8+ years. XVenture has made this resource available for free and encourage a Pay it Forward scheme to those who use it. This could mean sharing it with others in their community, or making a donation to a local charity, or perhaps giving time to volunteer. Sign up HERE.




[2]  The Conversation