Raising resilient Children

This is definitely the year that we need all the resiliency we can muster! We have had to deal with events we never really thought would happen and for some we have had to have a great deal of time on our own and learn to adapt.

Resilience, or the ability to bounce back from life’s stresses, is the one of the solutions to childhood trauma. Feeling loved, secure and safe are the foundations of resilience. This may be difficult if you experienced childhood trauma as these are often the things you missed, but there are ways to increase your own resilience by taking care of yourself. Flexibility, positivity, reframing the situation and setting reasonable goals are all ways you can build your resiliency. One of the best ways to build resiliency is to have things go wrong and learn to accept and adapt the way we hoped it might go- 2020 in a nutshell really!

There are different kinds of resilience:

Mental resilience: The ability to pay attention and motivate yourself to do something that’s difficult.

Emotional resilience: The ability to invoke positive emotions when you need them, like optimism, curiosity, or joy.

Social resilience: The ability to reach out to others for help when you need it. This also means learning to be the kind of person that others are likely to want to support and encourage.

Physical resilience: The ability to face physical challenges.

Resilience doesn’t develop in isolation. Resiliency is not something you are born with- you can become more resilient over your life span. There are many other qualities which impact on and affect resilience

SELF-ESTEEM -being accepted by people whose relationship you value, and from completing tasks you value.

SELF-EFFICACY -Having the qualities of optimism; ‘stickability’ and believing that one’s own efforts can make a difference

TRUST -Experience people as reliable, value them and expect them not to betray your confidence.

ATTACHMENT- A secure attachment relationship creates a secure base from which a young person feels safe to explore the world.

Five Strategies to Build Resilience:

1. Change the narrative

We all know what it's like to wake at 3 am- the witching hour! Our thoughts go round and round in our heads, rehashing the pain. This process is called rumination; it’s like a cognitive spinning of the wheels, and it does nothing to help move us forward toward healing and growth.

It might help to write your thoughts down. The aim of this is to explore your deepest thoughts and feelings around the issue bothering you. The idea is that if you can get something down on paper, because if it is on paper then it is out of your head- temporarily! When you write down your thoughts you are forced to confront your ideas and beliefs which in turn gives these thoughts some structure which might help you to take on a new perspective. By doing so you can now own you’re the new narrative and gain a sense of control.

2. Face your fears

I have always hated the expression "Fake it till you feel it" I think it comes from people who have never really had to confront their fears in a true and honest way. I really don't believe you can talk yourself out of your fears, instead try tackling the emotions behind your fear.

The first step is to slowly, and repeatedly, expose yourself to the thing that scares you. This needs to be done safely, in small doses, when you are feeling in a good space. For example, I recently fell on ice and broke my leg in 3 places. Every time I thought about being on ice or snow I felt my adrenal levels rise and my hands would become clammy. I exposed myself to numerous videos of people falling on ice until I could watch them without the body response. When this wasn't as successful as I had hoped I went to therapy and did EDMR therapy. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a trauma therapy developed by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro. She made the chance observation that eye movements can reduce the intensity of the disturbing thoughts when she noticed her own stress reactions diminished when her eyes swept back and forth as she walked through a park one day. EMDR involves recalling a stressful past event and “reprogramming” the memory in the light of a positive, self-chosen belief, while using rapid eye movements to facilitate the process. And voila- I am now able to think about walking safely and securely around ice and snow!

3. Practice self-compassion I remember discussing something with my therapist once and ended with " I guess I'm just full of self-pity" She immediately rephrased it and said "It’s called self compassion." We can be such bullies to ourselves at times and it is important to remember always that our feelings and needs are important too! Self-compassion is remembering to show compassion to ourselves, Thinking about our own suffering as we would for a friend with an attitude of warmth and kindness, and without judgment. Because we are the harshest judges when it comes to ourselves when making mistakes. One practice, the Self- compassion Break , (https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/self_compassion_break) is something you can do any time you start to feel overwhelmed. There are three steps to undertake to see yourself closer to self-compassion:

Be mindful: notice what you’re feeling. Try and do this without judgement.

Remember that you’re not alone: You cannot be human without experiencing deep and painful emotions, although the causes might be different. Say to yourself, “This is a part of life” or “Everyone feels this way at some point.”

Be kind to yourself: Put your hands on your heart, take a deep breath in, release and say something like “I give myself compassion” or “May I accept myself as I am.”

Remember- would I think about a friend like this if they told me their concerns?

Being kind to yourself is a challenge, but once we start to develop a kinder attitude toward ourselves, we can internalise a gentler voice and be more compassionate towards ourselves.

4. Meditate

Our most painful thoughts are usually about the past or the future: We regret things said and done, we think about things that went wrong, or we get anxious about things that might happen. When we pause and bring our attention to the present, we often find that things are…well,okay actually. Practicing mindfulness brings us more and more into the present, and it offers techniques for dealing with negative emotions when they arise. That way, instead of getting carried away into fear, anger, or despair, we can work through them more deliberately.

One meditation I find particularly effective at calming my negative thoughts is the Body Scan. Here, you can focus on each body part in turn—head to toe—and can choose to let go of any areas of tension you discover. Strong feelings tend to manifest physically, as tight chests or knotted stomachs, and relaxing the body is one way to begin dislodging them.

Sometimes tensing every muscle and then relaxing helps release tension you weren’t even aware was there.

5. Develop Flexibility of thought:

Changes can be a daunting reality for children and adults alike. Teaching your child from an early age about life’s uncertainties will enable them to roll with the punches a little easier. Change, too, is a great opportunity to sit down with your child and set some new, attainable goals. Flexibility of thinking is what will help you develop a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset.

Growth mindset is about growth, not just about effort. When people first learn about growth mindset, some think it means to believe that “you can succeed if you just try harder.” There's more to it than that. For students to have a growth mindset, they should understand that trying harder —and trying new strategies—not only helps them succeed at the current task but also helps them succeed in the future by strengthening their brain.

The goal is to avoid praising things that are typically considered stable such as talent or intelligence. “Clever girl” praises intelligence whereas “I can see you tried really hard to find the answer” praises the process and the effort.

And remember:

A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handles stress exceptionally well.


Mindfulness and the link to self-compassion


Ted Talk about Grit



22 views0 comments