The other night, we attended a training that focused on raising resilient children. This is a timeless topic but seems particularly relevant these days due to events in the world that make us feel particularly overwhelmed or even defeated. Young children are especially adept at reading between the lines and tuning into the emotions of those around them, but they are not ready to understand and manage these big feelings without appropriate support.
We learned about the building blocks of resiliency. Why do some people develop resilience while others fail to? It's in large part due to the environment they're in and the examples modeled by significant adults (parents, grandparents, siblings, and caregivers).
Even if you feel that *you* were not raised to be resilient, we know that we can rewire our brains for more positive patterns. Encourage positive thinking in yourself and use positive self-talk with children. For example, "Ugh, I am so frustrated that this isn't working! I'm going to try it another way. I know if I keep trying, I'll figure this out."
It's important that we talk about ALL feelings, validating them and offering support. We need to remember that what children are feeling is *real* -- just because it may not be something that we would cry about, from our adult perspective, does not mean that their feelings are less valid. The reality that many of us have trouble facing is that we're intimidated by children's large and unbridled expressions of raw emotion! It can help to recognize that children's feelings are not ours to "manage". They are whole human beings quite separate from us and it's enough to be there beside them. "I hear you. I'm here with you. You feel so upset right now. It's going to get better."
The number one thing we can do to help children grow to be emotionally healthy adults with great coping skills is to talk often about all emotions. Help them recognize feelings in themselves and others. Share your feelings, share books and stories about times when different emotions were experienced and how things worked out in the end ("I was SO nervous! My tummy felt funny and my hands were shaking, but I did it anyway and then I felt so proud!"), and support children in feeling like empowered problem-solvers.
This is how we change the world!