When the Omicron variant forced Michelle Felder's six-year-old daughter to start wearing KN95 masks instead of the fun ones she was used to, she became increasingly anxious. "Before, she knew she had to wear a mask,” says Felder, a mother of two in New York and founder of Parenting Pathfinders. “Now she has to wear a specific type of mask—and she was worried about what this change meant. She wondered why things had to be different."
When the pandemic began in 2020, much was made of children’s ability to be resilient: their ability to bounce back after facing adversity. But this year, as the pandemic continues to disrupt kids’ lives in surprising ways—especially in the wake of the highly contagious Omicron variant—it’s all about their ability to adapt. And experts say that’s an important skill set that could benefit them into adulthood.
“When we’re adaptable, we spend less time being reactive and more time being able to be receptive, creative problem-solvers,” says Tina Payne Bryson, co-author of The Whole-Brain Child. “We’re usually happier and tend to have more of a sense of agency in the world, believing that we are able to navigate our world.” This ability allows the child to feel safer, more competent, and more confident about their environment.