Resilience the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Traumatic issues whether emotional or physical abuse take much longer to recover from, some stay with you for the rest of your life, you move on the best you can. Some days will be hellish and some days a little better.
This post is about increasing resilience in our children in everyday situations at home and at school. Resilience does not mean you cover up how you are feeling, you feel what you feel for a reason, it’s about not letting it eat you up for days on end and knocking the confidence out of you. It means you move on. It means you keep trying. It means you don’t give up.
Building Resilience at School
Friendship dynamics in the playground can be tough and complicated for children to comprehend. Children surely should just all get along and play nicely, what have they got to be worried about? Yet I struggle understanding situations amongst friends now and that’s as an adult. Bullying is not acceptable in any shape or form whether it be actions or words but that’s an all together different topic, which I will be covering soon.
Children can be best friends one day and not the next, normally most friendship situations in which “I’m not your friend anymore” resolves itself within a day. Children like adults can have off days and children like adults have the right to choose who their friends are. Granted that when a child says “I’m not your friend anymore” it is hurtful to the child involved. They will be sad but having them understand that it is not their fault is important in building up their resilience. Resilience involves being comfortable enough with who you are to understand that certain situations are out of your control.
As parents we love our children unconditionally. “I love you so much. I love everything about you. You are perfect ” When a child understands that you love them is the best feeling ever for them but they also need to know that not everyone will love them or even like them. The real world can be an onslaught on your self-worth if you have no resilience.
When I see children struggling with a particular task, their frustration rising and they want to give up. Stepping in together we break down the task into much smaller accomplishable targets. A spelling sheet of a 100 words can be daunting. We cut them up, make a treasure box and learn one word a day and fill up our treasure box. The treasure box is magic as when you pull out the words you can start to make sentences and create your own stories. Starting with smaller tasks builds resilience to move onto bigger activities.
In teaching I praise children heaps, imagine a high praising evangelical minister without the religious strings attached and that’s me; Mrs Brown, the child praiser. When I observe a child giving something a go, the end result becomes part of the bigger picture, if the child has put the effort in then that is the intricate part of them trying, hence the praise. With “Great effort, I saw how much you were trying and that’s brilliant,” the child feels quite happy within themselves and will more than likely give something a try again. Building up their I’ll have a go resilience.
Building Resilience at Home
There will always be winners and losers in real life and although losing does not make you feel good, it should not be soul destroying. Accepting how your child feels and validating their feelings may seem ludicrous at times, when they are upset over what we may feel is a small issue on the scale of things but this helps them understand that it is ok to feel sad, angry, upset etc… and allows them to accept how they feel and also move on. Listening and acknowledging them builds their resilience.
Board games are fantastic in developing resilience, you win some you lose some. Did they have fun playing? Then it does not matter if they lose. Yes they can feel upset that they lost but the participation is the key, not the end result. Before you say but my child does not like board games, it takes time to enjoy the participation part, make it fun, make it part of something you do once a week. Choose simple fun games like UNO, Pictionary even Hungry Hippos.
Help your child look at the bigger picture, use your own experiences. With children it is ok to say “Mum feels flat today I have so much on,” explain tomorrow is a new day you feel sad cannot pinpoint why and that is ok too. Real life has our emotions up and down, resilience helps us cope by accepting how we feel and moving on when we feel ready.
Reading to them and breaking down the story, even creating different scenarios “How would you feel if that had happened to you?”, helps them verbalise how they would feel in a similar situation, almost creating a resilience force field for when a similar situation happens in real life. They have a point of reference they can refer to.
Resilience is for life
Resilience is something we all need not in the “Toughen up princess” kind of way but in accepting that certain things will be what they are through no fault of our own.
I would love to hear any tips or techniques you use to build up resilience in your children or yourself.