Frances Vidakovic is a certified life coach for goal getters, host of the DREAM BIG MY FRIEND podcast, course creator and CEO of two award-winning websites – the parenting website InspiringMomLife (previously Inspiring Life Dreams) and her home for all things to do with personal development DreamBigMyFriend. Her superpower: transforming dreamers into doers. This is her take on Raising Resilient Kids…
Raising Resilient Kids
When it comes to raising our kids, there are many qualities we hope to instil in them, from creativity and compassion to independence and a willingness to learn. However, there’s one quality that’s often overlooked and yet it may just be the hidden superpower of kids who succeed later in life and that’s RESILIENCE.
Let’s start by defining resilience. Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficult life events. I like to imagine it as the ability to bounce back from challenging experiences with a healthy mindset in hand. Now it needs to be noted that resilient kids aren’t immune to stress in life. The truth is life is full of challenges, obstacles and setbacks for every human in this world, resilient kids included. We can’t escape the human experience, however much we wish we could sometimes.
The difference is that resilient kids have the ability to process their emotional pain and suffering in a way that leaves them feeling positive about themselves and their future. On the outside, they may appear to be mentally tough but this strength has been harnessed internally and it allows them to come back at least as strong as before. Being resilient means you are able to adapt well when things “go wrong” and cope in the face of adversity, instead of breaking down, feeling victimised or permanently defeated.
So you may be wondering how does one develop the skill of resilience in your child? There are actually only three simple steps you need to implement on a consistent basis to develop resilience in your child. And here they are for you:
3 Steps to Resilience…
1. Practice what you PREACH!
It’s hard to instil resilience in your kids when you yourself fall apart at the first sign of an obstacle. You need to remember: your kids are keeping an eye on how you show up in the world. Do you fall apart when an event is cancelled or doesn’t go according to plan? Do you sook and complain and stay spinning in negative emotion whenever your life isn’t all rainbows, sunshine and daisies and it throws you a curveball you weren’t prepared to catch? If so, your kids are observing you constantly and the lesson you are teaching them in these events is “hey this is a normal way for humans to react and behave!”
You need to remember: your kids are keeping an eye on how you show up in the world.
I personally like to vocally tell my kids how I’m processing through my emotions whenever a challenge transpires. I actually say the words out loud: “I can choose how to look at this experience whichever way I want to.”
I can CHOOSE how to look at this experience whichever way I want to.
I can CHOOSE to think it’s happening for or against me. I can choose to see it as a gift and an opportunity to learn something new and gain new strength. Or I can CHOOSE to remain stubbornly small and stay stuck and then wait for life to present me this same challenge in different forms over and over and over again until I actually learn the lesson I need to learn before I move forward.
Imagine what my kids learn from me when they hear these words? They learn that they get to decide what they think about their experiences in life. They learn that they get to CHOOSE how to respond and that what would typically be considered by most to be a “negative” experience could actually hold within it a priceless gem that will lead to them further developing their inner strength. They learn that they are the captains of their own ship and masters of their own fate rather than a powerless passenger going on a ‘crappy’ ride through life. They get to decide what they think, and what they think will determine where they go because they are at the steering wheel. In a nutshell, their thoughts will determine their feelings, actions and results in life and the beautiful thing is THEY GET TO DECIDE HOW THEY SHOW UP IN EVERY MOMENT THEY EXPERIENCE IN LIFE.
2. SUPPORT rather than save your kids!
It’s often super hard to watch your kids struggle in life. It’s hard to watch them have fights with their friends, struggle socially, physically or academically and experience rejection, hurt, loneliness and pain. In an ideal world we would wrap them up in cotton wool and buffer them from experiencing any negative emotion in life. And if we could take away all their burdens and plop them onto our shoulders, we would do so in a heartbeat. But life doesn’t work like that, as I’m sure you have discovered yourself over time. Think about the obstacles you have faced in your own life. There were times there when your parents couldn’t save you, right? They couldn’t take away your pain or heartache because the place it was felt was inside your own heart. Emotions aren’t something we can just hand to someone else.
Instead in order to learn to manage our emotions well we need to do so internally, by allowing them to be rather than resisting them, by processing the gems from the experience and accepting that discomfort is just a normal part of life. Here’s the thing: life is 50/50. Fifty percent of the time we will feel great and the other fifty percent of the time we will feel some form of negative emotion and it’s okay. Nothing has gone wrong in these moments. The secret is to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, with feeling all the feelings rather than always acting surprised when an obstacle presents itself.
The good news is you don’t need to save your kids in order for them to learn to be resilient. In fact, saving them is the very thing that keeps resilience at bay. In order to develop resilience, we need to know we can survive the tidal waves that sometimes come crashing down on our life. We need to learn how to swim during those times rather than expecting someone to always come and save us or solve our problems for us. In these moments, you have the option of supporting your child rather than saving them.
So you may be wondering how supporting your child looks different from saving them? It’s by letting your child know you are here for them if they need you whenever they face an obstacle rather than jumping in to prevent them from ever experiencing a setback in life. It’s by helping them find their inner strength rather than feeding their weaknesses. It’s by listening to what they have to say rather than insisting they shouldn’t feel that way. It’s by helping them learn to trust their own voice rather than give them the impression that other people are always right and know better. To help support your kids, create a home that feels safe to them, demonstrate to them that they are loved and appreciated, and let them know that even though obstacles and challenges are normal in life, you will always be here for them and have their back.
It’s by listening to what they have to say rather than insisting they shouldn’t feel that way.
3. TRUST that it will be okay!
The final thing you can do to help raise resilient kids is to have faith and trust that it will all be okay. What if you were to believe this was true – that it will be all okay in the end? What if you were to put all your worries and stress aside – note: these are optional, non-useful emotions that absolutely do not serve you – and just have faith in life and your kids instead? What if you intuitively understood that they would struggle at times and it was okay? What if they were going to sometimes fail and it’s okay? What if the only thing you can control in those moments are your emotions and how you show up with your kids?
This is honestly the most important question you can ask yourself right now. How do you want to show up in those moments when your child is struggling and needs your support and not saving? What sort of parent do you want to be then? Do you want to be understanding, compassionate and positive or do you want to jump into the pool with them and potentially have you both drown in that whirlpool of life when it’s spinning like crazy? Want to know the best way to save a person who is sinking? It’s to keep yourself safe and throw them a life buoy to grab onto or reach out your hand. Or if you must get into the water you do so with your life vest firmly strapped on.
It’s to keep yourself safe and throw them a life buoy to grab onto or reach out your hand. Or if you must get into the water you do so with your life vest firmly strapped on.
You have the option at hand to be positive and hopeful.
You have the option to think thoughts like:
Nothing has gone wrong.
Life is happening for me rather than against me.
My child can experience negative emotions and it’s okay.
They will make mistakes and it’s okay.
My child will have challenging moments in life – this is normal and every challenge has the potential to lead to growth.
I trust in myself and my child.
I trust that he or she will find a solution and if they need my support, I am here for them.
I cannot control what my child thinks or feels or how they behave but I can control how I show up in those moments.
I will show up with strength.
I will show up with love.
I will do the best I can and even though my best may sometimes fall short of my expectations, my best will be enough.
When you think thoughts like this, you will feel strong, positive, calm and hopeful about life. And when you feel strong, calm, positive and hopeful, it absolutely changes the energy you experience in your body and the way you show up as a parent in life. In turn, when you parent from this place of strength and faith, it will change the experience your child has with you. This is how the seeds of resilience are planted in your child and remember: what you sow is what you eventually reap.
Do these 3 things: Practice what you preach, support rather than save your kids and trust that it will all be okay in the end and you are already well on your way to raising resilient kids who don’t fall apart at the first sign of an obstacle.
For more with Frances Vidakovic, click HERE.