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What is resilience and how can my kid get some?

mental models resilience Jun 08, 2022

Most parents and teachers i think would like to know that their kids could persevere through hardship if they so choose to. 


What sorts of hardships we want them to tackle is a little subjective. Which ones do we let slide?


Some kids are more than happy going through some hardship if it means playing Tekken for hours till they reach the boss at the end of the game right? Is that resilience? I suppose it could be described as that. 


We always have to consider things in context. 



We need to have some idea of the things we value in order to determine whether something is worth pursuing or not; worth persevering hardships in order to reach the ‘prize’. 

Why am I saying this? Well, I think if we can determine early on the things that really matter then we don’t have to waste our energy persevering with things that don’t matter. 



So resilience is not a character trait in my view. It’s a choice. 



Some kids have low levels of emotionality as a character trait but sometimes we confuse this with resilience just because they don’t show distress, ostensibly, in an obvious way. But we say their resilient as they simply go through the motions doing tasks that we ask because they might be super compliant. That’s not resilience. 



Then there are those emotionally sensitive kids who cry in distress at the drop of a hat (literally sometimes!), and they stop in their tracks mid-task, to the chagrin of all. But their not running away from the situation. They are staying inspite of the pain. THAT’S RESILIENCE. 



Whether someone demonstrates resilience or not depends on context, personal drives, motivations, interests and whether they persist in the pursuit of those interests inspite of hardship. Think of those who go against the grain and don’t follow the herd inspite of pressure to do so; they don’t buckle because they are in pursuit of want they want. Perhaps you could confuse that with stubbornness too - again, context is important. 



What can we do to help kids carry on momentum along their path. How do we help them to not lose too much steam? How do we teach them to motivate themselves and keep going inspite of things making it difficult to do so. 



Personally I believe starting the day with a personal mantra/saying/affirmation that sets your intent on something to strive for is a great practice that will stand them in good stead. We should ask ourselves what we are grateful for in our lives and what we intend for our lives. 



Nothing in life that wasn’t already given to us is free, we all have to wake up every morning and go after what we want. Of course for some, those things that they want seem closer to reach but you are not them. 



Focus on your personal journey. Kids learn this from watching us model this for them. We have to show them. It’s difficult to teach perseverance without models and real representations of what that looks like, what that feels like and the best people to teach that, is going to be you (parent, teacher, adult…you). They have to see you deliberately and intentionally pursue something you want. Don’t be afraid to share your journey with your kids and tell them about the struggle but it’s okay because you’re going to keep going. 



there are some CAVEATS** though - don’t make them want your dream* and for goodness sakes don’t bang on and on about how tough life is* they’ll find out for themselves, and you’ll be there to support them. Don’t freak them out with your stories of hardship unless you want them to form a complex. Don’t compare them to other kids (never. It’s tempting. But. Do not do it). 



Give them some pragmatic easy to follow steps to follow when difficult emotions bubble up at times of hardship; help them develop a personal mantra (i’m serious. Self talk is powerful), teach them to focus on their prize (tune in to that, and tune out the noise), teach them how to breathe with their diaphragms, use analogy (my favourite is the seesaw wobbler. You need to feel the wobble otherwise you won’t get to equilibrium). 



There you go. Some ideas to mull over in your minds this week. 



Oh I forgot to mention - the Practice of Empathic Discipline has landed! Yes. It’s ready. Go get it - you won’t regret it. click here now

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The way to do that is through empathic connection and I want to give you some keys to help you get on track and stay on track. 


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