Resiliency in Kids

shy girlToday I was out mowing my yard when the subject for this post walked right up to me. I looked up and saw a former Hawthorne student approaching me with a big smile.

I quickly shut off the mower and after a warm greeting and a quick hug, this happy little middle-schooler and I got down to the nitty-gritty of our conversation.

“How’s sixth grade?” I asked. She was very bubbly and excited telling me things about her new school. And then she told me that all her teachers are great but one is very strict. In addition to that this teacher teaches her least favorite subject.

I expected her to bemoan the fact and say something like she wished she could transfer to another class, or why did she have to be so unlucky as to get assigned to that teacher. But instead, she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Oh, well”, she would get through it okay.

And that’s what being resilient does for a child. It turns an uncomfortable or miserable situation into something that is surmountable and doable. And often times, it’s done with enthusiasm and a smile.

In my years as a school secretary, I saw a vast array of personality traits displayed by children. But one of the most amazing to me was that of resiliency.

The world of elementary school can go along smoothly one day and be full of bumps in the road the next. Rather like real life. And what I observed was that resiliency can go a long way towards smoothing out those bumps.

Resiliency can turn a disappointment such as not being chosen as Tom Turkey in the classroom play to excitement at getting to be in the turkey chorus. There may be a few steps that need to be taken to get from a state of disappointment to that of excitement but resiliency opens the gate and puts a child on the right path to get there.

So just how does a parent go about helping his child be resilient? And how can being resilient make life easier for kids?

For starters, let’s talk about stress. Stress is a fact of everyday life. Society moves at breakneck speed and heaven help the family that doesn’t do double time trying to keep up. As parents, we feel the repercussions of this stress in many ways. But often, it’s easy to overlook the fact that stress affects our children, also.

By helping our children meet that stress head-on and with confidence, self-assurance and a sense of control we are helping instill resiliency. When these traits are strengthened in our child, he is better able to bounce back after a disappointment or even after some big upheaval. In other words, some of the bumps in the road get smoother and aren’t such a big deal anymore.

And here’s the good news. We parents don’t have to be psychological geniuses to help our children. Basically, what it takes to instill all the traits that help build resiliency in children is this:  Kids need an adult in their life who loves them unconditionally and who believes in them.

And somewhere in there is the fact that kids live up to our expectations. If we constantly “help” our child by providing a buffer from life, that little kiddo never learns to accept responsibility, stand up for himself, develop ways to cope or numerous other life skills.

When we do things for them that they can do for themselves, it sends a subtle message that we don’t believe they are capable. Building a sense of independence in your child is an important way to let her know she is capable and will go a long way towards boosting her self-esteem.

For a quick read and easy to understand tips for building resilient kids, here’s a link to a nice piece on the Kids Now web site.

Need more tips on helping build resiliency in your child? The internet is chock-full of suggestions on how to do just that. Simply type “building resiliency in children” into your search engine and you’ll be amazed at the number of resources that will present themselves.

Once you are armed with the knowledge, you’ll be ready to begin implementing the necessary components of resiliency for your child. It won’t take long before she’s the one shrugging off the fact that she didn’t get her favorite teacher or favorite class in middle school next year. And “Cope” will have become a magic word in her bag of tricks you’ve helped her accumulate.

Well, thanks so much for joining me today. I’m ready to kick back, enjoy my freshly mown lawn and maybe watch for some other passerby’s from my school secretary days.  Hope you have an awesome week!


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