Now that summer is over and the new school and university year has begun, I have been thinking about the word ‘resilience’.
We all want our children to live the best life they can; free of worry, emotional hurt or physical pain. In an ideal world our children would never have to deal with bullying, feelings of isolation, parental issues, poverty, terrorism or crime. Wanting to safe guard our children from all of this is a natural instinct. The question is, even if we could protect our children from all these things, would it truly benefit them in the long-term?
The reality is that as parents, we should expect problems. There is no such thing as perfect parenting, and children don’t come with a manual. Our goal should be to raise children who can handle these bumps on the road of life and our job is to prepare them for the rigours of what life may throw at them. We can give them the tools to enable them to know that feelings of vulnerability are ok and to know that if they can learn from this vulnerability they will bounce back, be stronger and more resilient, independent and able to face the future with confidence, happy in the knowledge that whatever happens they will be ok.
I often work with, and help young people and adults who struggle to deal with the negative things that have happened to them either recently or during their formative years at school or in the home. These issues range from bullying by other students and sometimes teachers and those who are supposed to care for them, to those who have fallen off the education treadmill, feel stuck in their lives and can’t see a way forward. Some times they struggle with feelings of vulnerability and shame because they feel they have failed or let others down. I am always humbled by their strength and determination knowing that once they take just one small step towards understanding that vulnerability, that they can learn from it, take control, build resilience in order to have choice and a future to look forward to. What I do know is that people who do their best through the good and bad times are those who have others around them that care, never judge, who allow them to stumble, sometimes fall and recover through learning from their experiences.
I believe that admitting to being vulnerable is immensely powerful. To know that it really is ok if you fail as you learn more about yourself from the experience. Generosity of spirit, tenacity, empathy and compassion are often developed from the lessons learnt during tough times and these qualities and values are the things that will develop resilience and the strength to face the future. They are also valuable skills for the workplace.
Here are a few things to think about in helping your child build resilience:
Help your child by:
· Letting them learn that they can control their world and that solutions to most problems live within their developing wisdom
· Telling them it’s ok to fail –it’s how you learn
· Showing them It’s ok to be vulnerable– vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation and creativity
· Encourage creativity
· Teach them to take care of themselves – exercise and meditation are the best stress relievers
· Teach them how to be happy – to know that neither beauty, wealth, money, power nor pleasure bring true happiness
· Show them how you care for yourself
· Show them you care about their future
· Hold them to high expectation to be good people and lead by example
· Tell them you love them, and you are there for them no matter what happens
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