Raising strong kids
Mar 09, 2021
One day on the way back from nursery when my daughter was little, I sensed something wasn't right. We stopped to sit on a park bench and her eyes welled up with tears.
'Nobody would play with me today, they said I was a baby and couldn't join in their games'.
I felt a terrible stab in my heart and an urge to run into my daughter's school and demand what was going on.
I wanted to shake the mean girls and tell them they needed to include Scarlett.
I felt like calling up the parents to 'have a word'
It is devastating to think of our children being in pain.
We want to 'make it all better'
To take the pain away.
But all my research told me that to build resilience in a child, we need to allow them to experience tough times and not rush to protect them.
If you haven't had this kind of experience, be prepared as it will happen.
If it isn't 'nobody wants to play with me' it could be:
'I wasn't invited to the party',
'I didn't get picked for the team',
'I'm in the bottom reading group',
'They said my new haircut is stupid'...
Our children's mental health is vital and these tips can be fundamental in making a difference to the adult they become. We want to raise them to be strong adults who can bounce back and risk failure or 'looking stupid'.
So how do we help our kids to build resilience? Try these tips below
- Watch out for tell-tale signs that something might be up. These can be that they are unusually snappy, they are quiet or withdrawn, they cry out of the blue, or they go off their food.
- If this happens, have some quiet time with them and rather than asking 'what's the matter?' Try saying something like 'You seem to be upset about something. I wonder what that might be?' - It can take a lot of digging to get to the bottom of things and sometimes you need to leave it and come back to it a bit later.
- When they do tell you. Stay calm, hold your own emotion and don't over-react. They need you to be strong for them and neither over-dramatise nor dismiss it.
- Don't ask for unnecessary details like 'who was it, where did it happen, what did they say, who did they say it to, what did you do?' - it is overwhelming for a child and it misses the point. We just need to validate that they are finding something hard.
- Instead put the emotion into words - say something like 'Gosh that must have been really hard' or 'Wow, I bet you felt so embarrassed/left out/anxious/worried about what might happen... (fill in the blank to how it might have felt or be feeling)
- Wait and let them feel the emotion. Let them cry and don't stop it. Hold them tight and don't say much except murmurings of empathy.
- If you already know the cause of the upset like - they haven't been invited to the party, don't dismiss the pain and say 'well I'm sure it won't be very good'. Instead talk about how hurtful that is and that life can be really tough sometimes.
- When their emotion has subsided you can say something like 'Do you have any ideas about what to do to help you feel stronger?' This may or may not be appropriate depending on the situation.
- You can throw in 'I've got a suggestion - would you like to hear it?' - if they take you up on this, think of things they might do like have a playdate with a different friend or practice their sport even more to improve.
- Share your own experiences of how you have had to deal with challenges and had to bounce back.
- Remember to praise your child for their unique characteristics to build their self-esteem. Don't say 'you are amazing' but instead things like 'You are really thoughtful', 'You have such an enquiring mind' 'You are kind to people and it is so hurtful when they aren't kind back', 'You are really strong - remember when you....'
Let me know what you think. Send me an email [email protected].com I'd love to hear from you.
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