Daily lessons in resilience for kids

5 April 2019

Daily lessons in resilience for kids

  • Resilience
by Michael Grose

Recently, I saw a mother give a simple, yet profound resilience lesson to her three year old. The toddler fell into his dog’s bowl, saturating his t-shirt and giving himself a fright. His mum quickly helped him saying, “Oh well!” The three-year-old bravely parroted his mother, saying, “Oh well!” and dashed off to play.

Every day there are opportunities for parents to give their children lessons in resilience. Promoting personal resilience focuses on helping kids cope with life’s hurts, disappointments and challenges in the present, while building strengths for the future.

Adult reactions matter

It’s in our reactions to these and other every day mistakes, mess-ups, muck-ups and hurts where the big lessons in resilience are taught and reinforced.

The lessons for the three-year-old were simple but profound. “Oh well” meant:

  • Stuff happens
  • Don’t look for fault or blame
  • Keep your perspective
  • Pick yourself off and continue with what you were doing

How to react

The resilience lesson for this mother was equally as profound. When a minor mishap with a child or teenager occurs:

  • Match your response to the incident
  • Stay calm and be positive
  • Don’t look for fault or blame
  • Remember, stuff happens

Resilience lesson for parents – “Oh well”

Every day there are opportunities for parents to give their children lessons in resilience. Here are some examples:

  • A child misses being picked for a team that he had his heart set on joining. Oh well. Let’s see how you go next time.”
  • When a boy experiences rejection in the playground at school. “Oh well. You’ll find that some people don’t want to be your friend.”
  • When a teenage isn’t happy with the mark she gets for an assignment. “Oh well. Sometimes we don’t get the marks we think we deserve.”

Match your response to the challenge to promote resilience

There are times when “Oh well” won’t cut it. Here are some examples:

When a child is bullied he needs your continued support.

  • When a student’s continuous efforts at improvement are constantly met with criticism then you may need to act on his behalf and meet with a teacher
  • When a child always struggles to make the grade and is never picked for a team then you may need to help him make different choices

These types of situations also present opportunities for daily lessons in resilience, but they require more parental support and teaching. The resilience lessons learned are deeper and include concepts such as ‘things will eventually go your way,’ ‘there are times when you need to seek help’ and ‘this too shall pass.’

Promoting personal resilience focuses on helping kids cope with life’s hurts, disappointments and challenges in the present, while building strengths for the future.

Daily lessons in resilience are everywhere. You need to be ready to make the most of these valuable lessons when they come your way.

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Michael Grose

Michael Grose, founder of Parenting Ideas, is one of Australia’s leading parenting educators. He’s an award-winning speaker and the author of 12 books for parents including Spoonfed Generation, and the bestselling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It. Michael is a former teacher with 15 years experience, and has 30 years experience in parenting education. He also holds a Master of Educational Studies from Monash University specialising in parenting education.