Are we doing children a favor by letting them have the easiest and best of everything? “What distinguishes healthy families is not the absence of problems or suffering but rather their coping and problem solving abilities.” (Froma Walsh)
A good definition of “resilient” is found in Ms. Walsh’s book, Strengthening Family Resilience: “the capacity to rebound from adversity strengthened and more resourceful.”
Ways to let children practice resilience
- Praise a child’s patience with a younger sibling’s interference with their toys, rather than jumping to stop the conflict.
- Encouragement: “You’re a star when it comes to trying new things.”
- Even if you think it’s “too hard” for a child, give him or her independence to try new things they initiate, such as climbing at the playground or opening a container. Let them try things for themselves, even if it means they may fail. Nothing builds resilience like failure– and the realization that you can move on from it.
- Teach children phrases such as “this too shall pass” or “every challenge makes you stronger.” These phrases frame struggles as challenges to overcome, not tests to avoid.*
Resiliency’s spiritual component
Adversity invites all of us, including kids, into the spiritual domain. Strong faith, beliefs, and practices can foster a resilient spirit that lasts a lifetime.
See how these different spiritual beliefs influence a child’s resilience:
- They tried to bury me, but they didn’t know I am a seed. (Mexican proverb)
- Not everything is good, but God causes everything to work together for the good.
- “…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me….” (Psalm 23)
- “Get up rejoicing. It’s a new day… with a will, there’s a way.” (M. Izunwa)
What spiritual beliefs in your family’s heritage influence resilience?
Note: Credit goes to Chelsea Smith for the Ideas to practice resilience.
- Strong faith beliefs and practices can foster a resilient spirit in kids that lasts a lifetime. Click to Tweet
- Do we really do kids a favor by giving them the easiest and best of everything? Some thoughts on resilience. Click to Tweet
I could be in this video. One of my grandfathers had Tourette’s Syndrome, the other grandfather had an undiagnosed movement disorder manifesting in physical and vocal tics. The onset of my tics was somewhere around age 5 or 6.
Other children would pull away from me, stare at me, laugh at me.
My lonely heart provoked me to try suppressing “the jerks,” as I called the jerky, persistent tics. Each new elementary school I entered (and there were 5 of them) brought new resolve to ignore the urges, quiet the sounds and hide the tics, to no avail. Finally, when I was ten years old, something happened and I don’t know what it was, but I was able to resist the urges. At first, I resisted only at school but gave in to them at home. Then, even the urges quieted and the struggle faded into the background of my life.
Partly as a result of this experience, I am mindful of how adversity has a profound impact on our life purpose.
I experienced adversity through ridicule and shunning for five of my early years. Therefore, I (unconsciously) made it my mission to find as many ways to connect as a little girl ever could. And I succeeded. Years ago, I did a Strengthsfinder assessment and my Number One strength is Connectedness.
I find meaning in life by building bridges.
In Child-Centered Spirituality, Connectedness appears in my desire to guide adults as they assist children in integrating all the “parts” of themselves–spirit, body, mind, emotions. In order to do that I draw upon the wisdom of many because I need other people. There’s a lot I don’t know.
Connectedness shows up in Spiritual Direction appointments when people ask me to facilitate their connection with the divine. It’s there when I lead support groups that provide an environment for people to connect with each other for strength, hope and experience. And so on.
From this painful chapter of my young life flows a perspective that I can share with you for the children in your life.
- Children have a limited vocabulary, but they feel and suffer just as adults do.
- A child’s adversity possesses glorious purpose.
- Difficulties in our earlier years often propel us to ultimately accomplish much good.
- After a time of processing childhood adversity with a trusted person (counselor, mentor, relative), some adolescents experience a mid-course attitude correction that redirects them away from negative consequences and points them in positive directions.
Tweetable: Look here for a perspective of childhood adversity to share with the children in your life. Click to Tweet