It is regularly quoted in the media that today’s kids lack resilience.
Despite knowing this to be the case, many of you may not be entirely sure how to support your child in improving their resilience.
Here are 3x steps from and Mum and a teacher that we use in our house.
1. Sit with, feel and then move on from unpleasant emotions.
It can be so tempting as a parent to smooth over all hurt, tears, worry and anxiety for our children. This is a perfectly natural parental desire because we want to protect them and do not wish them to ever feel hurt. However, in their life they are going to experience ups and downs, despite how much we attempt to shield them. Because of this, it is necessary to let them feel the good and the bad, so that the carpet isn’t pulled out from under them when life throws them a curve ball, which it inevitably will at some point.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you do not comfort your child or listen to their worries, or cuddle them when they are upset, but I am suggesting that you pause before rushing in to ‘fix’ every problem they face.
When a child is having a meltdown because they have not been allowed to do something, sometimes the best thing to do is let them cry it out. It is frustration (a normal human emotion) and one that they need to learn to sit with, feel and move on from. When they begin to calm, cuddle them, label the emotion, acknowledge and validate the feeling, but stand firm with whatever boundary has them upset in the first place. Because in life they will not always be able to do everything they want to do.
2. Share stories
As adults we can sometimes forget what children do not yet know. For example, a child who is upset because they want to swing on the monkey bars but they are too young to master this skill independently would probably love to hear a story about how you, as their parent, were unable to do something when you were young but that you kept having a go and slowly it got easier and easier. Until one day you could do it on your own. This can give your child comfort and support them in accepting the feeling of disappointment/frustration and develop their tenacity to persist until they can do something.
3. Let your child lose
No body ‘wins’ in everything they do in life. As adults we understand that everyone has their strengths and everyone has their weaknesses. Children do not automatically comprehend this. It is therefore, important to allow them to sit with, feel and then move on from the emotion of not winning, because it is one they will experience at some point in their life. If you have a particularly competitive child who gets very upset when they do not win, then just keep reminding them that what makes a game fun or enjoyable is the act of playing the game itself, rather than winning or losing. And equally reiterate to them that there will be times when they may win, but also times when they may not and that’s ok. When they are upset about this, acknowledge the feeling, acknowledge that it doesn’t feel nice but that sometimes that happens and leave it at that. Avoid making excuses for ‘why’ they didn't win or replaying the game and letting them win. It is far better they feel this negative emotion with you and learn to deal with it, than have to face it for the first time in the classroom, or on the playground or at a co-curricular activity.
I have always been of the opinion that I’d prefer my children feel these negative emotions in the safe, supportive environment of home.
If I ‘fix’ every problem, then one day when they are in an environment outside of home, they are likely to have rude shock and have a far scarier, more intense experience when they feel a negative emotion and do not have the skills to cope with it- to sit with it, fell it and most importantly move on from it.
So here's to a more resilient generation of kids who feel, connect and don't always win.
Your hands on helper,