Thursday, August 18, 2016

Building Resilience Sets Your Child Up For Success

MOTHER AND SONby , Huffington Post:

Linda is a voice for the boomer generation, motivational maven, guidance education advocate, enthusiastic and loving Mum and Gramma.

Parents, grandparents, caregivers take heed. As you are stowing the markers, pens and paper in your child's backpack for the start of a new school year be sure to throw in a hefty supply of resilience. It is the most important school supply any child needs in today's world.

Forty years in education and many years as a guidance facilitator has led me to believe resilience is the key factor that contributes to an emotionally whole child. A child possessed of solid resilience attributes controls bullies at the source - within themselves. A child possessed of a strong set of resiliency skills is less likely to be bullied.

Bullies readily identify the vulnerable in any school group. A bully requires an audience and emotionally weak children to intimidate. A child that can simply walk away and by standers who stand up to those bullies, reduce the incidence of bullying. Research has proven that. Children possessed of resilient character attributes are capable of such self-determination.

How can you as a parent ensure your child has a healthy dose of resilience as they walk out the door for their first day of school? What can you as a parent, grandparent or caregiver do?

You need to know the 'knowable' in your child's life. How do they perceive themselves? Insecurity is a bull's eye for bullies. Insecurity cannot be totally erased as any adult with tell you. But how we think our children perceive their 'personal positives' can be deceiving.

Always ask, never assume is a motto I believe. Ask your child how they see themselves within the family, with their friends and in the outside world. Gently dig a bit and push beyond the "everything is OK" answer.

Encourage your child. We, as parents can so often assume our children are aware of how much we admire them and sometimes we find out they really don't know or they need that reassurance of saying those things out loud. Have you, as an adult, ever tired of hearing "I love you"?

The other side of the coin is that children also need to realize they can't please everyone. Not everyone in the world is going to like them. Life is like that. They are not going to be successful at everything they undertake. Learning to graciously accept defeat is a skill. However, tenacity has life-long applications. Don't give up too soon if the going gets tough. Learning to find the right balance is a valuable skill.

As much as possible, children both within the classroom and at home need structure. Structure builds assurance within each child. Think of a chaotic classroom you might have been in at some time. Probably the time the supply teacher arrived unprepared for the day. How did it make you feel? It was exciting initially and then it probably got scary. That is a little microcosm of how a child feels without structure. Having too much freedom is both exciting and scary.

There is a difference between that lack of structure and giving a child responsibility that might involve certain freedoms. That involves trust which is a confidence builder and a resilience builder. But the responsibility has to be accepted on both sides of the family spectrum. The child feels capable and the parent feels confident.

Developing a strong resilient character is a process. There is no quick way to raise a resilient child. I spent many years involved in teaching life skills lessons in school. It proved to me over and over again we can never assume our children know how to have healthy, power- balanced friendships or are capable of resolving disputes effectively. My teaching experience proved they do not take these important lessons in by osmosis. Children need to learn and practice these skills at home and at school. Proficiency is acquired over time.

There can never be enough talking to your child. With the emphasis being on 'talking to' and not 'talking at'. Sometimes the conversation connects and other times it doesn't. They are kids not widgets. Don't give up trying. You will know each time the connection has been made.

Learning to see beyond their own world is one way that children build a sense of empathy, a key ingredient to resilience. Even young children can find some volunteer activity, a way to give back to their community. Push for your schools to adopt resiliency programming. There are programs out there.

Each child needs to develop their own personal, healthy sense of power and control. We need to focus on the resiliency of each child. That comes with a shared responsibility and collaboration between home and school.

These are the most important lessons a child will ever learn.

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