We hear the common words resilient and hopeful batted around like ping pong balls but we don’t always know what they mean, how they help our children or even how to tell if our child has them.
Let’s look at their definitions-
Resilient: the ability to recover quickly
Hopeful:feeling or inspiring optimism for a future event
Many others have written about these concepts.
Brene Brown speaks of hopeful as, “Hope is not a way of thinking …And it’s 100% teachable.”
Desmond Tutu explains, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”’
Gever Tulley. “ Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.”
But what does this mean for our children?
It means that with hope (the belief it will get better or be better) and the skill of being able to be resilient (the ability to recover from a negative event) children and teens can learn from and move quickly on from what might otherwise be a defeating moment or experience for someone else.
So how do we inspire hope in our children?
There are many ways to do this. Can you think of more ways to teach hopefulness to your child? How do you show your hopefulness to your children?
- Instill value in the process of learning and creating, not outcome. This allows the child to feel hopeful that they will improve with each process and get closer to the outcome they wanted.
- Encourage discovery and inquisitiveness. When children are curious and allowed to discover things for themselves, them become hopeful for what is the next new thing to discover.
- Allow success by teaching children how to accomplish tasks on their own, thus building self-esteem. Self-esteem leads to hope.
- Be an active listener. The more we listen to our children, the higher their self-esteem. The more self-esteem, the more hope.
- Value and model generosity. When a child is given the chance to feel generous and see the generosity of the world around them, they learn what hope looks like.
- Encourage failure as a tool for success. When we fail, we learn from our failures and hope helps us press on to try again and again. Easy success creates children who give up when the going gets tough.
Eva Selhub, M.D. states, “Contrary to what many people think, resilience has nothing to do with avoiding stress, hardship, or failures in life. Instead, it’s about knowing that you’ll be met with adversity and that when it happens, you’ll be prepared to take it on, learn from it, and become stronger as a result. In other words, resilience is the ability to bounce back easily and thrive in the face of life’s many inevitable challenges.
It’s true that some people are naturally more resilient than others. These folks see challenges as opportunities, are able to maintain a positive outlook, and find meaning in the struggle. For others, resilience is learned and takes continuous work.
When you’re truly resilient, adversity doesn’t get you down physically, emotionally, or psychologically (not for long, at least). And the most resilient people have an inner trust that they have the resources to handle anything. “
Resiliency is a learned behavior often passed down through generations.
Here’s how to increase your child’s resiliency and your own.
1-Take small steps to create big change. It only takes one small pebble to make a big wave. What can they do first? Next? Taking small steps towards a goal gives them a chance to taste success. With each successive small step/success, they will want to take another step.
2-Have a toolkit of coping skills ready and available that work for you and your child’s individual needs.For example, yoga, mindfulness exercises, coloring, music, dancing, going for a walk, playing with a pet, deep breathing, reading, puzzles, art, etc.
3-Learn to be flexible. Discuss all the possible ways something could go right or wrong, with all possible outcomes. How can they handle minor disappointments or major obstacles?
4-Be optimistic-Is the glass half empty? Half full? Or, as I like to say, “Is it refillable?” Seeing the positives, even in a negative situation, can be difficult. Teaching children to write gratitude down daily can help.
5-Accept support. Learn who can help and when, as well as who are your biggest fans. Lean on them when the going gets tough.
6-It’s not personal:blaming never helps and letting your brain get on the hamster wheel of “what if’s” won’t remove the problem.
7-Nothing lasts forever. Most setbacks are temporary as are most problems. Take a deep breath, rest and take another small step.
8-Change your story. Have you always been the crybaby? Or the bossy one? Don’t let it define you or your child. Reframe the wording of your narrative to a positive. Your child is empathetic not sensitive. You are a leader not bossy.
9-Look back on other times your child succeeded and asks what worked then.See if those skills and tools can be used in this new situation.
10-Find your inner strength or seek guidance from your personal choice of higher power. What does that look like for your family? Prayer, meditation and spirituality have proven to help in times of struggle.
I believe that all humans can be resilient. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be in the career I am in now. Together we can help the littlest babies and our oldest teens how to sail their ship.
“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.”-Louisa May Alcott