10 Mar 2015

Resilient Kids..

The sequel. 

I always knew in my heart that the book to follow my first tiny parenting book, Simple Tips for Happy Kids 

-- would have to be Simple Tips for Resilient Kids!

But then, secretly I wished my kids would not have to help me learn it  - the hard way. I mean, if they don't ever buckle, why would I have to learn how to help them to become resilient?

Perhaps they are not real, but there are kids who just seem to have it all so together! My daughter has a classmate who does well, is head prefect, bakes for her classmates, well-liked and highly regarded by her peers...I studied her as she rides home in my car, and marvel at her motivational levels and her abilities! I don't like the fact that she sleeps six hours and less each day; but she appears to hold it all up and together just fine! My only conclusion: she's cut from a different cloth.

This is probably the first and most unlikely key to resilience: Acceptance.

You see, resilience is a combination of mindset and energy. They must work in the same direction. Very often, our complaining and whining saps us. Hankering for things to be different weakens us because precious energy is being used up. Eventually we cannot think clearly, withstand the current pressure, and make the changes required in order to see a different outcome.

If you want to go triumph over something, you have to first accept it is real. tweet this 

Which for the parent means accepting that your kid has limits.

Since there is no one sure-fire way to prefect parenting because it doesn't exist (yes, you can stop looking for it now); because the Parent is someone in a particular relationship with another human being and each relationship is unique. tweet this

Every relationship must recognise the limits the individuals confront at that point. Some limits are obvious: physical limits, abilities (will not touch a musical instrument?)... while others are limits due to maturity and mindset.

Resilience happens when we can push that mindset and broaden it.

It doesn't have to be about scaling Mt Everest. How about completing homework, being kind to a sibling, handling some form of peer judgement and rejection?

The younger one was struggling with attracting some heavy-handed attention from his peers (some kids are simply magnets for bullies and such like). He gets shoved, they find it fun to trip him up, or worse, sometimes gang up against him.

I can, and did, spend energy railing about the system, other parents, how unfair things were ...but it was when I accepted that somehow this is what my child was up against that I was strong enough to help him find his strength to face this.

Day in day out we talked about his emotions, his reactions, the scenarios.... we discussed our values and agreed on acceptable responses. He needed to know the world can be scary this way but he need not be overwhelmed. 

The tears grew less. the anger cooled, he devised his own strategies...and this year we alerted the teacher and enlisted his help. Resilience is not letting the kid charge headlong or go it alone. It is coming alongside to add your strength to his and help him find out how strong he can be as he matures. We all need each other to help us be strong.

In this instance, he needed to know he was strong enough to rein in his frustration and seek the good of others. It's a Grace moment and movement that happens in the heart as we cultivate the soil by ridding it of fear and planting hope.

Yesterday we were doing a school survey on pupils' experiences with peers. He chose 'yes' for a good number of negative experiences! But it was done with a matter-of-fact composure and he reminds me a few times, "Mom, I'm a good boy".

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