Reflecting on 2020 With Your Kids

December 23, 2020

Some might argue that this year is not worth looking back on. To put it lightly, it has been tough. It has been an exercise of patience and a test of courage, and while we’re all looking forward to a future filled with more normalcy, it might be important for you and your family to reflect on 2020. 


Howard Community College Counseling and Career Services Director Dr. Jay Coughlin is offering some guidance for any time you may spend contemplating what the heck happened over the last 12 months and where we go from here.


Why reflect on this year?

Amidst all of the virtual learning, Dr. Coughlin says reflection provides an in-person opportunity the kids haven’t had in awhile.


“Reflecting is not only helpful for learning about yourself and how you survived this crazy year, but also about what is important to you,” Dr. Coughlin said.


Looking back on the past also allows us to plan for the future, Dr. Coughlin says, providing chances to create a more rewarding life.


“Given what you learned about yourself, you can ask, ‘What is important to me? How can I continue to highlight those important things in the future? What do I want and/or need? How can I make that happen?’” Dr. Coughlin said.


Reflecting honestly and feeling proud

There is no avoiding the challenges this year has presented and the loss many of us have endured. As Dr. Coughlin points out, a number of people have lost loved ones to the virus and we continue to see case numbers and death statistics increase on a daily basis. Others have lost employment, a sense of security and freedoms we enjoyed in pre-pandemic life. We should be honest about that loss while taking pride in what we’ve been able to overcome.


“It is important to know that many of these losses are out of our control, but the way we react to them is something that we can control,” Dr. Coughlin said. “Being able to live day to day is an accomplishment. Being able to adapt to the many changes that have occurred in the past year is also an accomplishment.”


Looking back and moving forward

While it may be uncomfortable, Dr. Coughlin says it’s important to acknowledge the adverse feelings that might arise when thinking about 2020 and share them. That way, your emotions are one less factor isolating you from others.


“When it comes to dealing with negative feelings or memories of the past year, it is important to recognize them and allow yourself to express how you feel to a family member, friend or partner,” Dr. Coughlin said. “They may join you and express similar feelings, which will help you not feel so alone.”


As we think about a year filled with disappointment, frustration and loss, Dr. Coughlin says seeking out more help could be a useful option.


“If the thoughts and feelings are intrusive and create difficulties in your daily living, you might want to consider talking to a mental health professional. With the advent of Zoom sessions, therapy is more accessible than it has ever been.”


Entering a year of uncertainty

There may still be a lot of uncertainty heading into 2021, but we can still be optimistic about what’s ahead of us. Dr. Coughlin suggests focusing on the things we can control to affect positive change.


“If you drive your car looking in the rear view mirror all the time, you will crash the car.  It is important to take care of your ‘vehicle’ through better eating, sleeping and hygiene so that you can keep going forward,” Dr. Coughlin said.



For more tips, check out the CA Parents’ Corner blog.

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