As an extrovert, I live for opportunities to interact with my students, friends, and colleagues. Attending summer institutes each summer is one of the highlights of my entire year. This year I was planning to take my 7 year old violinist for his second time, and my five year old cellist for his first time. Plus, I was going to attend an Advanced Violin Pedagogy training with Simon James! Simon James! I was so excited.
Then, everything changed. Our plans changed. Intermountain Suzuki String Institute was cancelled. I was so disappointed.
I’m an adult, I understand the gravity of the situation the world faces right now. I know how important it is to continue social distancing. I know that cancelling institutes, conferences, recitals, and other events is worth it because it will save lives.
But I was still terribly sad.
Our children and students may be sad right now. The events and activities they love and look forward to are cancelled or postponed. It’s normal that they would be sad, disappointed, or even angry.
Even in the best of times, it can be difficult to be present with strong emotions in ourselves and others. When children are upset, adults often want to make it better. We try to talk them out of their feelings. We try to distract them. This impulse often comes from our own discomfort.
Dr. Laura Markham says,
“Many parents struggle with supporting their child through grief, because there’s nothing we can do to make things better. We just wish we could fix things! So remember that you don’t have to have answers. You just have to show up and listen and acknowledge the loss. (And if we can learn to do this more often for our kids, in the face of most of the issues they encounter, we would all be better parents. So this is a terrific time to practice.)”
After listening, and acknowledging their loss (however small it may seem to us), we can help them move forward.
We can create new opportunities for connection with teachers and friends.
We can make plans for performances that comply with social distancing guidelines.
For more on helping children process their grief, you can read Dr. Markham’s article here.
Brecklyn Ferrin teaches Suzuki violin lessons and Suzuki Early Childhood Education classes in Kaysville, Farmington, and Salt Lake City, Utah. She is the Suzuki parent of a 7 year old violinist, 5 year old cellist, and 18 month old Suzuki baby.
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