Recent statistics state that the current generation of millennials has the highest levels of depression, anxiety and stress compared to any generation previously, and only 34% of women in this age group can “handle their stress.” Many of them aren’t managing it in productive or healthy ways either, with many turning to drugs, alcohol or other types of risky behavior to quell these feelings.
And while there are various schools of thought as to why this generation is so stressed out, including the unstable job market, helicopter parenting and high societal expectations for success; clearly building our children’s ability to handle and overcome life’s problems and rise above adversity is paramount. As we think about taking the LONG VIEW of how we are parenting today affects our children as adults, let’s think about HOW do we best prepare our children for handling life’s problems? Well, here is a recent example of how NOT to do it. 🙂
As parents we need to learn how coach kids through their more challenging moments and help them discern what they have learned for the next time. We must avoid solving all their problems, and teachthem to handle uncertainty and how to problem-solve on their own. In short, we must develop their RESILLIENCE towards life in order to help them ensure maximum happiness. My free spirited daughter is now in 4th grade. She is being called names by a group of kids almost every day. I have spoken to the teacher to try to figure out why it is occurring and what she has done about it, and with my daughter I am using the coach-approach; the core of which, is asking lots of “curiosity” questions:
- What leads up to the name calling?
- How does she feel about it?
- Why does she think these kids are picking on her?
- What does she do?
- How has that worked?
- Is there anything else she thinks she can do?
- Would she like any suggestions?
You get the idea. The key here is to be non-judgmental, keep your own feelings out of it, and offer suggestions if asked. Help the child to explore the situation with you. The coach-approach also offers up the energetic belief in her capacity to handle it, empathy for what she is going through, and, in this case, a chance to teach empathy as well-“ What do you think might be going on for those kids that they feel like they want to call you names all the time?” Building resiliency begins in the first three years with the development of strong parent/child attachment and bonding: Responding to cues, providing love and meeting needs. This bond provides a child a sense of safety and security, a belief that the world is a safe place that welcomes and supports, and allows for risks and exploration. As they grow, continuing to share this attitude of unconditional love, value, belonging and support is key. Here are some other ways in which to build resiliency:
- Start seeing children’s mistakes as opportunities for them to learn, rather than as something bad, a failure or inadequate. Ask kids: “What were you trying to accomplish?” “What worked?” “What didn’t?” “What would you do differently the next time?” This is a GREAT tool to encourage them to brush themselves off and TRY AGAIN. And while viewing an F on a project as learning opportunity is HARD for us parents, think about those LONG TERM traits and beliefs that children can learn from this reframing.
- Teaching self-control techniques to our kids & modeling self-control techniques ourselves is also very helpful in the long term. These can include deep breathing, counting to ten before responding, walking away, regrouping, etc., so kids can get used to using mindful tools when challenges come about. Along with this comes modeling
- Self-care- (eating right, exercise, spa days 🙂 – See there IS a good reason to do these!! Our kids can learn healthy ways to take care of themselves. Again, thinking long term here.
- Asking for their opinions & developing opportunities for their growth/learning: Hold regular family meetings where they can participate, provide responsibilities (even as young as 2 years old) and providing lots of personal choices. Allow them to develop their voice and their capability and engage them in figuring out how they can handle life’s challenges.
As you can see, promoting resilience in kids is a not a single event but a continuous process that requires adults to be supportive and empathetic to kids when things don’t go their way. Unfortunately, being resilient does not mean that children won’t experience difficulty or distress, but they will have thelife- long skills to be able to move forward with ease, let go of deep pains and hurts more easily, and, use the hardships of life as lessons from which to learn and to grow. I hope this helps. Read more a www.1minutemommy.com