Be Connected, Get Involved, Foster Independence, and Get Flexible.
Spring is finally here and that means flowers blooming, birds chirping, and the return of lots of outdoor play, both in the backyard and on a field. This is a great time of year to boost your child’s resiliency, the ability to bounce back or overcome an obstacle or hardship. Resiliency is a key component of healthy development for children and positive family functioning. There are four easy steps you can take to ensure your child is as resilient as she can be, before the stress of games, SOL’s and missed opportunities knock your children down. We want them to bounce back from their hardships, not give up.
Actively listen to your children every day and get to know their unique gifts. This time of year, family dinners may be even more difficult with crazy schedules. Work with what you have to stay connected. Use the time in the car to listen about their day or ask some questions while carpooling to get to know your child and their teammates better. Respond with compassion when you can and remember what it was like to lose the game when you were nine or to not get accepted into your top college choice. Allow your children to have their full range of emotions and empathize with them. Saying “I understand how disappointed you are and how big this feels to you” will help you be connected. This empathy will go a long way in helping them become empathetic themselves, another characteristic of resiliency.
Have your family join a club, congregation, or volunteer organization. Find something fun your family can do together such as visiting Maymont, www.maymont.org, and enjoy a leisurely afternoon picnic lunch. Walk through your neighborhood and pick up litter you see. Or better yet, organize a neighborhood cleanup and see how good it feels to work together to make a difference. Help your children identify a hobby or skill. Having a passion that they enjoy is a strong indicator of being resilient. It can help them stay focused on an activity when life becomes stressful or overwhelming, providing them with a much needed stress relieving break and bringing some enjoyment back into their day.
Give children age appropriate choices and responsibilities and let them try new things. As parents, we want to protect our children and we may enjoy or feel it is our role to do everything for them. However, research indicates that independent children can overcome obstacles easier because they have a strong sense of what they are capable of doing and also, believe in themselves and their abilities. Start small- have them pick up their toys as toddlers, clean their rooms and set the table as elementary age students, share in the cooking and be responsible for their own laundry as middle schoolers. This independence will give them many small tasks that they can be successful at, the foundation for healthy self-esteem.
Finally, allow your parenting style to be flexible. Know that you, your parenting partner and your children will make mistakes and let that be okay. Provide opportunities for your children to problem solve on their own. Again, let them experience mini successes as building blocks for resiliency and healthy self-esteem. For example, when your 10 year old shows up on the ball field without his glove, allow him and the coach to work it out. Maybe your son will think of writing himself a note or placing his equipment in the car the night before. Then, as he grows older and has more responsibilities, he will have that learning experience to remember how he successfully overcame a problem. Remain optimistic about challenges and life. Have a sense of humor, especially about life’s small mishaps. Flexibility will help your children learn how to not let inconveniences or stumbling blocks get them off track. Resiliency is a great personal characteristic and there are so many things you can do to nurture that in yourself, your children and your family.
Enjoy the month and your time together! Remember to stay healthy together, to share together and to play and learn together.
Families that can do those things are definitely magic!
Updated May 2018