The measure of fitness is not how slowly a heart beats but how quickly it recovers from exertion. Fitness training is a way of building our body’s resilience. Yes, there’s some pain involved, but with each work-out our body recovers more quickly, becoming more prepared for additional challenges.
But what about our emotional resilience? How do we train ourselves and our kids to recover quickly? Building emotional resilience is not so different from building physical resilience. I have to put myself in a position to fail, to flag and to flail, knowing that it WILL make me stronger.
Even more difficult, I’ve got to allow my kids to fail. And I have to know that it is at that instance of failure that the learning really starts. I have to restrain myself from swooping in and “fixing it.” That is probably the biggest challenge: reminding myself that it is good for the setbacks and the learning to start early, far better than allowing the first setback to occur in high school or college.
So how do you train resilience in yourself and your kids?
I think that training for resilience in children is mostly about training the parents to be slow in reacting and when we do get involved, do it by asking the child her strategy for how she is going to solve the problem/do better next time. Parents need to get out of the way of their children! I was always good about giving my toddlers lots of freedom at the playground, but I noticed when they started school that I was getting too involved in their work. I learned to back off especially after another mom noted that by getting involved, we are denying our children the thrill of victory. Yes, resilience is about getting back on the horse, but the flip side is that the child also 100% owns the successes! Watching a child work through and solve her own dilemmas and achieve her own success is a beautiful thing. A classic book on the topic of resilience is :The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel.
I’m so, glad to hear from another mom the importance of letting our kids fail!!! Another important piece is letting them see us fail and persevere. So many times I catch myself wanting the easy life and that is not what will teach our kids to become mighty men and women of this world.
“because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
Thanks for the encouragement to stretch ourselves and our children!!!
I am amazed at such a concise and accurate definition of resilience. I would like to use your statement in a parenting lesson about resilience, and yes I will site my source!
I am reading Adam J. cox’s book, “No Mind Left Behind” in which he discusses the 8 pillars of competent executive function, of the brain. He does NOT list resilience as one of the 8, but I think he should. Perhaps being flexible, attentive, organized, and having initiative, self-awareness, and a working memory, plus being able to manage your emotions and manage time are some of the things that help us become resilient. But, I think you really put it correctly. It is the failing and recoverythat is the point of gaining resilience.