Posts Tagged ‘disposition’

Fostering Resiliency In Our Kids – by Elle Victoria-Vasquez

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Fostering resiliency in our kids is a gift that never becomes outdated. Outdated are the, once
perceived, notions that idealized childhood as happy-go-lucky times where kids could be
protected from the adversities, traumas, anxieties and fears (real or imagined). We can’t always
fix or solve crisis and often the only choice that we really have is how to respond. With this in
mind, isn’t wonderful that resiliency, with its protective and adaptive qualities, can be taught and
built up? Your children will gain skills to better adapt, manage stress, anxiety, uncertainty.

Remember, resiliency is not a trait or a genetic pre-disposition; it is a skill that can be developed
and cultivated. We have the power to grow our children, tweens and teens into healthy resilient
adults by developing their metal muscles now. There are many ways that can help your child
face crisis. Here are 4 sure ways of begin the process of building up your child, tween or teen’s
mental muscle, right in the process of life.

1. Create opportunities for your child, tween and teen to succeed.

No longer are the small communities where we once competed in 4H clubs and high school
science projects and could feel like we were unique and had special skills. With the social media
and the internet any child can search a topic and find countless outlier prodigies with fantastic
and accomplished projects and acclaim. In the mind of a child this can be difficult. So what can
we do about that? Think about what our kid’s natural strengths and talents are (not what they
can learn or put on a college application necessarily). Identify 2 or 3 and begin regularly creating
opportunities where we know that our children’s odds for success are great. Start small, keep it
simple, make it regular and fun. Most importantly, be the one who notices and praises your child.
They are never too old to succeed; older kids can easily be a part of the planning and creating
process.

In times of crisis your child will have the confidence that, even though they have not
encountered this particular challenge before, they have conquered enough to know that they can
make good decisions and succeed.

2. Cultivate healthy relationships with peers, extended family and/or chosen family as
much as possible.

Kids are not born with a natural knowledge of how to make friends and nurture family
relationships. They pick up information along the way from you, media and other people at
school. It’s a crap shoot. Have a time of self-reflection; ask yourself, “How might a child perceive
my own friendships and family nurturing behaviors?” Then ask your child what s/he sees. Talk
about friendships, not as finding that small group or one best friend but as a lifelong process that
builds networks of good friends and family ties that are nurtured. Make sure your kids interact
regularly with healthy adults, grandparents, coaches, extra-curricular teachers, relatives, youth
pastors and the like. Teach them basic manners (greeting, eye contact, thank you/your welcomes,
etc.), manners build self-esteem and confidences that help your kids interact. Help your children
cultivate real interest in other’s lives and not just see others as people who can do something for
them. Start small and simple and make it regular and fun.

In times of crisis your child has the network of family and friends to choose from and turn to. They will have the confidence to speak to other necessary adults and professionals.

3. Teach and encourage “healthy helping,” reflection and gratitude.

Feeling like you have a purpose and make a difference is a powerful antidote to helplessness.
Empower your kids by engaging them in age appropriate volunteer work. Start small,
keep it simple and close to home. Great resources are helping the elderly in your family or
neighborhood. Talk to your place of worship or schools about opportunities there. Whatever
you do, don’t miss out on the opportunity to talk about the experience without judgment. Move
the conversation toward gratitude and “a good thing” and “a not so good thing” that your child
thought about their experience.

In times of crisis your child will have an expanded understanding about things that happen in
life even to good people. S/he will be less likely to feel singled out, alone or “cursed.” An added
bonus is that your youngster will have a natural faith in the helpfulness and availability of others
which will build hope in them.

4. Breaking down and dissecting

Talk about the future with your kids. “What do you think about your future?” How do you
see yourself in 10 years?” Listen. Pick a reasonable goal and break it down into as small
pieces as you both can. Start small, keep it simple and make it fun. Think parts and pieces.
Plot out the behaviors that are needed to do each step in attaining the goal. Teach your child
to deliberately dismantle tasks and tackle in steps. Always repeat phrases like, “What is the
next best step? What’s possible to do right now?” Moving toward that goal – even if it’s a tiny
step – and receiving praise for doing so will train your child to naturally focus on what s/he has
accomplished rather than on what has to be done or is not done. Acknowledge, acknowledge,
acknowledge. We can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but we can change
how we interpret and respond to these events.

In times of crisis your child will be able to break down and dissect the big challenge, into
manageable pieces. They will understand that not everything can be done immediately. They will
ask themselves, “What is the next best step I can do?”

You can reach Elle at Elle@Legacy4Kids.com