Resilience. I know that’s what my 5 year old lacks right now. Her meltdowns, her intensity, her anxiety all stem from lack of resilience. Her issues (anxiety, spd, selective mutism) all contribute to this lack of resilience.
I came across a website called Raising Resilient Children and the site (and corresponding book) authors, Robert Brooks, Ph.D. and Sam Goldstein Ph. D. describe resilience in this way:
Resilience embraces the ability of a child to deal more effectively with stress and pressure, to cope with everyday challenges, to bounce back from disappointments, adversity and trauma to develop clear and realistic goals to solve problems, to relate comfortably to others and to treat oneself and others with respect. Numerous scientific studies of children facing adversity in their lives have supported the importance of resilience as a powerful insulating force.
That’s what I want for my children. Not money, not fame, not material goods. I want them to be resilient and have that inner strength they need to withstand life’s bumps in the road. I want especially for my 5 year old to learn resilience and I want it sooner rather than later. She’s one who just yesterday melted down after realizing the last stick of gum was gone.
The website above has a great quiz to find out if you are a parent capable of fostering resilience .
I took the quiz while she was in preschool, so it was in my mind when I responded to her unraveling into a tearful mess. I gently scooped her up, held her close and told her I understood she was upset there was no more gum. She held me close and cried a little more and that was it. She dried her tears as I rubbed her back and we went on to eat lunch before her afternoon class. I was very happy I did the right thing.
My husband responded similarly later in the day when she fell apart after having to come inside for dinner. I told him she hadn’t eaten enough protein (especially for having morning and afternoon class today) and her response was not surprising. So he picked her up and held her firmly while she cried in his arms. He said he could feel her relaxing in his arms and the sobs lessening second by second as he held her.
If we could only respond that way every time she falls apart. You’d think by now we’d automatically think to do that, but I can say for sure if our energy stores are tapped out, we don’t.
There’s more ideas for fostering resilience in this article on the website: Risk, Resilience and Futurists: Changing the Lives of Our Children. The very first point? Teach Empathy by Practicing Empathy.
I know this seems so obvious, but if you are a parent worn out by extreme meltdowns or tantrums or aggressive behavior, it’s hard to cultivate that empathy when you are battered on a daily basis. Somehow it’s easy to lose our empathy when dealing with extreme behavior.
I don’t know if I’m ready for yet another book, but the authors do have one called Raising Resilient Children: Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child.
My library doesn’t seem to have it, and I’m going to have to shell out more dinero for another book for our library, but it seems like a worthwhile read.
I really wish I could download the information from books a-la The Matrix style. It would make it so much better to have the information immediately available.