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Resilience, In Small Steps


What is it? Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. I used to resent obstacles along the path: 'If only that hadn't happened life would be so good.' Then I suddenly realized, life is the obstacles. There is no underlying path. - Theoretical Cosomologist Janna Levin If kids can access their thinking brains in spite of missteps, mistakes, or poor outcomes, they are more likely to be able to analyze what might have gone wrong and figure out positive ways to move forward. But resilience is not some magical quality or something you are born with: it requires strong mental health as well as commitment to transcend hardship. How to Address It? Parents ask me all the time: 'How can I give my child resiliency?' The answer is that you can’t just give it to them. Resiliency is comprised of a set of skills -- and the good news is that, as parents, you have the opportunity to nurture those skills:

  • teach them to take orders by giving them chores,

  • help them to develop self-awareness by validating their emotions,

  • allow them to embrace an 'I can do' attitude by allowing for 'failure'

  • encourage grit by praising the effort instead of the achievement.

It's the New Year. Let's start with chores. If your children already do chores, maybe you mix it up a bit for a change. Your Script in Action Parent: Could we pick something you can help me with this week?

  • Preschooler: Put toys away, feed your pet, set the table

  • Ages 5-8: Make bed, sweep kitchen floor, clear the table after meals

  • Ages 9-12: Put away groceries, unload dishwasher

  • Ages 13-16: Clean the bathroom, do load of laundry, load the dishwasher

  • Ages 17-18: Do their own laundry, cook a meal and clean up, run an errand

Obviously these aren't set in stone and remember, kids can do waayy more than we give them credit for. GOT A MINUTE? Just pick one or two things that your child can help with. It's doesn't have to be big or painful. Agree in advance on which days and by what time they'll be done. Stick to it. And let me know how it goes. Good luck!


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