This week my daughter was asked ‘What is it like to have a mum that helps people to become more resilient and gritty’. When she shared this with me, I became super intrigued myself! It’s certainly not a question I have ever asked either of my children so I was of course keen to know what she said in reply!
It also generated a conversation in the car about the impact having resilient parents has/or not, as the case may be, throughout childhood, and ultimately led to me sitting here this evening writing this post
As adults we experience a multitude of responsibilities and stresses, yet childhood isn’t always completely stress-free either! Children are under pressure to achieve in school (from a very early age), learn a ton of new information every day, making new friends, changing schools, fall outs with friends and sometimes family members, perhaps even the loss of someone close to them, unkind children taking the ‘mickey’ out of their new shoes because they don’t have some label that is over-priced anyway!
The main thing that helps our children navigate those experiences is resilience. Resilient kids tend to face a problem head on and look for a solution, if the first one doesn’t work they will find another way. Not only will they find another way but they will do it with a sense of confidence. Perhaps not alone, they may ask for help… this in itself is an act of courage, seeking support is a key factor of resilience.
I can recall countless times over the years that my own children have faced these types of challenges and the desperate battle in my head to resist jumping in to ‘save’ them. To instead be an observer, a coach and mentor all at the same time is hard! Especially when every fibre of your body wants to ‘fix’ it for them.
I often hear parents saying things like ‘I wish I could have that cold for them so they don’t have to feel ill’ I am pretty sure I have said it myself a few times, in reality it could be the immune system resilience they build from that cold that helps them fight the flu or infection later in life.
We, as parents are often trying to stay one step ahead of everything our kids are going to experience, so that they don’t have to experience the struggles we may have faced.
The problem is life doesn’t work that way, and they are experiencing the world today in a very different way than we did as children. If I am an anxious parent, I am going to find it more difficult to help my children through uncertainty and uncertainty will come.
In my view, our role is not to problem solve for our children, but to help them problem solve for themselves, not to stop them from making mistakes, but to make sure they know what they learn’t from them so they can be more educated next time they are in that situation, it’s not to soften the fall but to be there to listen when they explain what they did to rise again. Resilient parents, raise resilient children.
If you’re wondering what my daughter reply was in the car …
1. I see the positive in everything, I believe nothings ever ‘that bad’ and there’s always another way, whether it’s because I’ve missed a train home, and I need to work out a new route or I’ve just left my phone at home and I need it – There’s always another way
2. I had the freedom to make my own decisions at the right age, like choosing my own clothes from such a young age has helped me learn how to dress well, and being allowed to go out alone with friends when I was younger helped me be more aware of potential dangers. I know the risk and you helped me get comfortable with them bit by bit – I don’t need wrapping in cotton wool, I’ve got this!
3. I always know how I ‘feel’ about things both good and bad, and I know it’s ok to share my feeling with you, I also know you’ll ask ‘ what are you going to do with that feeling’ or ‘how are you going to manage that’ so most of the time I ask it myself first now – It’s ok to have and explore my emotions
4. I often use headspace to relax when I’m feeling stressed about things, whether it’s exams or friends or anything else really! – I know when I’m stressed and take time to do something about it (I meditate)
5. I always see things from the other person perspective, you’ve always asked ‘what might be going on for them, that has led them to behavior that way’ or ‘this is more about how they are experiencing the world right now, it’s not you’ – I don’t think ‘I’m not good enough’
For a child to feel safe to fall, they have to know there is no shame in making mistakes, it’s not our mistakes that define us but what we learn from them, to always tell the truth, share their anxieties, fears, and never be afraid to ask for help in the knowledge that you will not love them any less .
Would you like to build your levels of resilience? Click here to find out details of the Gritty People worksop.