How To Raise A Resilient Child: One Mum’s Journey
As parents, we all want to protect our children from pain, from hardship. But as we do so, we often lose sight of the importance of raising them resilient. Read about this mum’s journey of discovery.
When I first held Ian, a sudden rush of emotions overwhelmed me. There I was, a first time mum, clueless about everything yet convinced that I had it all planned out. I held Ian in my arms and imagined how I’d shield him from all the evils of the world. I’ll never let you fall, I whispered in his ears, as I envisioned the perfect path he would walk.
Like any parent, I wanted my son to have the best of everything that life had to offer. But little did I know then, that if I didn’t let him fall, he’d never learn how to pick himself up from a fall. And life comes with falls, whether I liked it or not. It wasn’t the falls I had to protect him from. It was the resilience to pick himself up from the falls that I had to instill in him.
Raising Them Resilient
I learned difficult lessons as the years went by. I learned that solving every problem that came in Ian’s way – or worse, holding on too tight and eradicating problems even before they started – was paving the way for him to grow up dependent, and clueless. Worst of all, potentially entitled.
I thought I was doing it all right until building blocks taught me otherwise. Ian had found an interest in building blocks and predictably, I went on a shopping spree to feed his newfound interest. But it struck me hard when I saw him pushing aside his blocks in a fury, one set after another.
It would all go fine until the instructions got a bit more difficult or confusing. He would then knit his brows and purse his lips and eventually throw it all aside or insist that I fix it for him. For him, not with him, because he had decided that building blocks were too much for him.
That’s when warning bells first started ringing in my head. I saw Ian giving up not just on building blocks but himself, before he had barely tried! I couldn’t believe how easily he had thrown in the towel.
Lessons Learned from Building Blocks
I tried to comfort myself by believing that the difficulty must be from just building blocks. Surely Ian had more determination and resilience than that! But then I saw it manifesting in many other aspects of his life. When I saw him leaving the playground because climbing to the top was too much for him, when he deliberately made himself late for tennis lessons to avoid running during warm up because running was tiring, when he kept looking to me for affirmation for the simplest of things, when he couldn’t make the simplest decisions on his own, my heart sank.
It hit me real hard that in trying to give my son the best, I had killed his grit.
That’s when I decided that I had to change.
The Challenge of Change
More so now than ever before, we live in a world that is volatile and ever-changing. We are educating our children and preparing them for jobs that don’t exist yet. Opportunities and challenges arise out of nowhere, and the world moves along at an unprecedented speed.
Change is everywhere. Change is inevitable. And change is the only constant.
The only way our children can rise against these challenges and face the changes head on is with resilience – both mental and physical. The resilience to cope with change and to accept when things don’t go as planned. The resilience to keep trying, come what may. And the resilience to adapt to any environment, near or far.
So tiger mums, helicopter mums, lion mums, whatever tribe you identify with, it’s time to change the way we parent. Instead of raising them sheltered, let’s raise them resilient!
How To Raise a Resilient Child
Remember, mums, resilience is not just the ability to withstand adversity. In today’s world, it is the ability to turn every challenge into an opportunity, transforming every difficulty into a source of growth. Here are some simple ways how to raise a resilient child.
1. Encourage Independence
We need to allow our children to experience challenge. We can set it up for them simply by not being overprotective and running to their rescue even before they need it. Stay two steps behind and observe their response to a situation. Let them attempt to solve their problems unless it causes them too much distress.
2. Promote Healthy Risk-Taking
We live in times where most playgrounds are safeguarded with bouncy floor materials and helicopter parents hover in every direction. But because we can’t bubble wrap our kids, we need to encourage them to take healthy risks. A healthy risk is something that pushes a child out of his comfort zone but leads to very little harm if he isn’t successful. Trying new sports, outdoor play, bicycling or even just swinging at the playground are some ways to do this. When kids are open to risks, they inevitably learn to push themselves.
3. Help Them See Failure Differently
Resilience springs out of failure and if we don’t allow them to experience failure, how then will they learn to deal with it? Instead of making them feel lousy for failing, or preventing the failure altogether, allow them to fail then talk them through it. We need to give our children the space to understand that through failure they learn, and it is the first step to success.
Mums, we know it’s easier said than done but let’s take a step back to allow our children to find their own way forward. Dory from Finding Nemo said it best, “Well you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.”
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