PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3
In this series we will explore practical and effective strategies to encourage the development of resilience in our children. To read PART 1 CLICK HERE.
Resilience is considered a key component for success due to the ability to overcome adversity and achieve one’s goals despite obstacles that may come your way. A growing number of schools are developing methods and protocols for teaching resilience to their students as a means for problem solving, developing character and building a foundation for successful living. While the efforts of schools in this regard are admirable and needed, it is broadly accepted that parents or other primary caregivers of children are the first and best teachers due to two factors: (1) Children spend more time with the adults with whom they share a home; and, (2) parents have the greatest and longer lasting impact on the children they are primarily responsible for. So the question is: What examples are you setting to insure your children understand and exemplify resilience in their encounters with disappointments and obstacles that come their way?
Life challenges don’t pick up the phone and make an appointment so that you can be prepared ahead of time. They can come out of nowhere leaving you overwhelmed and unable to respond as you would under normal circumstances. The triggers can be many and varied including: trouble with your boss at work, unexpected bills, problems in your relationship, an aging parent whose care is dependent on you or a bad driver who cuts you off on your way home. Any of these incidents can set off an emotional time bomb of reactions that find us in a rage, out of control, extremely stressed and not behaving as the mature adults we claim (and wish) to be.
Although our human nature may want to hit the ceiling, remember that our children are always watching and listening to how we respond to what life dishes out each day. In addition, what they see and hear they will often emulate at some point when we least expect it. Children store that information away in memories to call up when they face their own serious letdowns.
Will our kids recall examples of how we took the lemons and made lemonade or will they remember a meltdown that sent them running for their bedrooms? Are our children learning positive ways to cope with disappointments and setbacks or do they bear the brunt of our bad days? Children are observing, listening and learning from us all the time. We often become aware of how closely they watch us when they mimic behaviors we’d prefer they’d never seen. While It takes practice and discipline, it is critically important to use these situations to teach our children what resilience looks like up close and personal.
The way we handle disappointment and adversity in general is a critical learning tree for our children. Do we blow up, give in or give up? Or do we face the situation, analyze what can be done and pursue tangible solutions for our problems? Our choice of response will speak volumes to our children. If we behave with anger or resignation we send one type of message. However, if we respond in ways that acknowledge our disappointment while signaling our understanding that the world is not coming to an end, we can model hope for a better day, and a healthy determination to solve problems that can generate more desirable outcomes for the future.
The next time you are tempted to blow up, give in or give up, remember that you are not the only one to consider at that moment. You have young souls who worship the ground you walk on watching your every move and listening to all you have to say. The measure of your example will be the degree of resilience your child displays when life hands them lemons and they must decide how to respond. Let’s hope by your example they decide to make that lemonade.
Tune in next week for another key strategy to help you build resilience in your child!
Every Monday you can meet me right here and on TheWRITEaddiction where I contribute various tips and tricks for helping all you parents and early childhood educators succeed in preparing children to excel in lifelong learning. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to my YouTube channel for plenty of free resources.