What is resilience:
We want to raise our children to be kind and loving people. We tell them to value compassion more than anything else in life. Ideal parents want to empower their children to believe in themselves and encourage them to realize their highest potential. But, how can they ensure that their children will follow through with their dreams and stay on the course when the going gets tough?
That’s when the lessons of resilience come into play. Resilience is the quality of unstoppable determination with which humans are capable of bouncing back after a tragedy, major adversity or a personal/professional set back.
Why do most of us lack resilience:
We all dream of big things for ourselves but are often sidetracked with our self doubts and apprehensions. We stop in our tracks because we can’t forget the failures of our past. We avoid retrying because we want to avoid the pain of regret.
The second reason why we don’t continue working on our long term goals are because we can’t see the positive progress in the form of immediate results. Why create further adversity when status quo works?
Teaching children resilience:
Parents who know the power of resilience do a few things to ensure it is the way of life for their children. Children who have positive self worth and self esteem believe in their abilities to achieve their goals. From this belief arises their ability to persevere, aspire and achieve. Promoting the abilities to learn quickly and easily, using techniques to increase attention span and focus are other tools that help with grit.
Fear is the obstacle:
Often times, parents don’t understand the reason behind the reluctance of a child in meeting new people, exploring new ideas and learning new things. Fears of not meeting expectations or disappointing his or her parents is likely an obstacle for a child to not try new things in the first place. Teaching them to be open to the possibility of different outcomes is one way to encourage children to keep challenging themselves.
Positive self worth:
When the child is self confident, he’s ready to meet challenges, face failures, and quickly adapt to changing situations without his inner monologue blocking his every move. Self esteem is how much the child values himself and his abilities. It leads to how he surrounds himself with things that reflect his own view of himself. Children with a healthy self esteem value their interests and their personal contributions to society. They don’t feel the need to embellish themselves with symbols or other crutches that artificially boost one’s status in society. When adversity hits, they often bounce back quickly because they’re not afraid to try harder again and again and again.
Children who grow up in homes where parents cater to their every want and wish grow up with a sense of entitlement. They grow up never realizing that even love has its limits. And when they start living on their own in real life, disappointment and frustration will become tough emotions for them to handle. If we start counting what we lack, there will always be something lacking because life isn’t meant to be perfect. Instead, its necessary for them to understand that they don’t always get their way in life. “I’ve enough for me to thrive,” is a healthy idea for them to adopt, so they can stop being self absorbed and start contributing towards common goals in society.
Teach them the importance of mindfulness, so they don’t exaggerate and overwhelm themselves with the situation they find themselves in. Mindfulness makes us live in the present instead of us ruminating about our lives in the past where we’ve been victims of people, circumstances and the environment. Mindfulness teaches children the importance of not making a mountain of a mole hill and seeing things for what they really are.
Think like a problem solver:
There are two things to do when problems arise. Either you can let them stop you in your tracks or allow them to propel you into innovative actions. When you’re not immobilized by pain from a tragedy, you become your own hero. First, teach your child the power of this stabilizing thought, “I’m down for anything. That’s just easy instead of fighting everything.” Now that adversity has arrived, ask them to think what they can do now rather than what could have been.
Life is monotonous and mostly boring. Combine that with tasks and goals we set for ourselves, life becomes arduous and Herculean. The earlier children come to this realization, the better. Encourage your children to create pockets of joy for themselves. Work in small batches on a large goal and meeting self imposed small goals sustains momentum. Living upto their own small promises in turn boosts confidence in them to keep reaching higher. Progress is growth and consistent growth is greatness.
Lower your standards:
Teaching children that accepting defeat is part of the learning and growing process is important. Encourage them to realize that minor setbacks are part of the game of life. Teach them the importance of managing emotions which are in our hands. Things like people and circumstances are not really in our control anyway. Failures don’t necessary define them or their potential, rather they are an indication that they are progressing on a path forged with their strengths.
Can resilience be taken too far:
Adapting resilience makes us and our children built to last against problems. But, there are times when resilience seizes to be an asset and becomes a liability. So, how can we avoid taking this dogged grittiness too far?
By being flexible enough to know when to stop being persistent. By knowing when to give up. By understanding and listening to ourselves and the environment. By once in a while stopping to ask if the solution, the direction or the means of achieving our goal is the right one or not.
Tell your children, “Understand when a project has become a lost cause. Instead of being stubborn, develop the ability to cut your losses. A project that has no desired outcome and no valuable result is a waste of time and precious energy resources.”
Existential crises arrive early for most children who grow up in a privileged world, because they don’t know what to do with their beautifully laid out lives. They didn’t have to strive for anything in life so far, so as young adults they get lost in the pursuit of meaning and purpose.
When children are encouraged to fight their own battles, its gives them a sense of purpose. Having a purpose drives them forward when their world is shattered by violence and tragedy. Having a purpose empowers them with the courage and confidence to thrive inspite of obstacles.What’s more? Having a purpose is a sure fire way to find happiness. Isn’t that what we all want for our children?