RAISING RESILIENT KIDS
by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC
Throughout our lives we face uncomfortable situations. It might be moving to a new town, a new school or joining a new club. It may be taking tests, entering competitions, facing confrontations, getting criticized or being treated unfairly.
As parents, we know how we feel under these circumstances and quite naturally we want to shield our children from the same ordeals. That is a reasonable response, but not a helpful one. Since everyone faces discomfort, we need to teach our kids how to deal with it. If we don’t, they will certainly suffer through the years.
So what does a true resilient person look like?
- This is a person who holds himself together under fire. He takes reasonable precautions to avoid flack, but when it comes, he does not lash out in defense. He is secure enough in his own skin to not absorb criticism wholesale. He understands or acknowledges that:
a) he may have made an error or shown poor judgment
b) he may just have a different way of doing things
c) the other person is having a bad day.
He knows that there is often some truth in a criticism, and he is willing to learn and change if necessary. He does not allow the situation to eat him up or to allow him to hold a grudge. Rather he forgives, learns from it and moves on.
2. This is a person who knows it is natural to feel afraid in unfamiliar circumstances. He acknowledges his feelings, but does not allow them to immobilize him.
3. This is a person who understands what failure means, but is not measuring himself against others. He is intent on bettering his own performance. He gets himself up, shakes himself off and tries again. He is a person who not only sets goals, but eliminates all obstacles in order to meet them.
How can we teach our kids to be resilient? First of all we have to look at our own reaction to adversity. Do we avoid conflict at all cost? Are we afraid to try new things or go new places? Our kids watch how we handle these things and they will imagine that what we do is normal. They start off by copying us.
a) Do not shelter your kids from all discomfort. Tell them it is natural to be afraid of going to a new school, playing in a new team, being bullied, or taking a test. If they know everyone has those feelings, half the battle has been won. Train them in advance how to meet new people, what to do if they feel intimidated, how to cope when they feel they have failed or if they are embroiled in a conflict situation.
b) Monitor their moods carefully. Persuade them to talk about their feelings and encourage them when they make positive steps. Tell them you don’t have to be afraid of tests if you have studied the subject well enough.
c) Kids want you to create high expectations for them. However, it is important not to make those expectations impossible to reach. If you do this they will feel as though they will never be good enough and may give up the hope of pleasing you.
d) Give them the tools to solve problems rather than coming to their rescue. Let them work some issues out by talking through them with you. Don’t just keep telling them what to do or they will never learn to think for themselves. You are not always going to be there when they have to make decisions.
It is never too late for us to become a resilient parent and while doing so we can be teaching our kids the lessons we learn.
If you have any comments or questions on this subject do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blogsite at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com