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How to Foster Your Child’s Resilience to Survive in This Chaotic World

How to Foster Your Child’s Resilience to Survive in This Chaotic World

I have, in the past written about the importance of resilience. The importance of being able to stand tall against all the unexpected stresses and strains of life. Resilience, when viewed as a skill, is, I believe, vital.

However it can be much more important and beneficial to develop resilience in early life. Being resilient can also have a huge benefit on an individual’s health and personal development.

The world’s children, when they reach adulthood will have to face many problems which are only just beginning to arise, or are yet to make themselves known. Climate change which is becoming an increasing threat, will in time be a severe and present one. Current geopolitical struggles may deteriorate into terrible wars and strife. In response developing strong resilience could prove to be a highly effective way to function in this unpredictable world.

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Why is it important to develop resilience in children?

It has been shown that developing resilience in childhood is much more effective than developing resilience in adulthood.  In childhood the brain is still developing, as such it is much more adaptable and flexible than the brain of an adult. Things discovered and learned are far more likely to be absorbed in childhood than adulthood. So if resilience is fostered in childhood, they will, in adulthood be far more resilient and adaptable than someone who had no extra resilience fostered in them[1].

Resilience is not just the ability to keep a cool head in stressful situations either. Resilience can help us feel extremely balanced and in control in life, no matter the situation. Resilience has been shown to:

  • Improve academic achievement in school (and not be overcome by study stress)
  • Improve mental and physical health (largely by limiting the affects of stress which can have severe effects on physical and mental health)
  • Improved productivity. This is quite simple: being able to function well and adapt to very stressful situations means you will be able to get more done in them. Stress about work makes things more difficult, by removing the stress, you remove the extra difficulty.
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence. When your child sees themselves overcoming stressful situations with relative ease or see themselves doing well no matter what is working against them, they will naturally feel good about themselves and feel in control.

If the above in mind, it seems like wanting to inspire extra resilience in your child is a great thing to strive for, and it is. But how do you develop resilience?

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Here are five ways to improve your child’s resilience[2]:

Be there with your child every step of the way.
As you’re obviously the kind of parent to read articles about child development, you may already fulfilling the criteria for this tip. But countless research has demonstrated that the single most important thing a parent can do for their child, (not just to foster resilience but, well…everything) is to be there for them. Having the support of just one dependable parent, guardian, or caregiver can have a massively beneficial affect on a child.

Strong relationships like this will not only provide the child with a strong supportive influence. Your child will begin to monitor and regulate their behavior to be similar to them, so if you are strong and supportive, they will become strong and supportive, and with this, will become more resilient as they have a measure of strength and security in their life.

Bring and build optimism for your child.
Optimism has been shown to be a key feature of resilient people. This makes sense, people who are able to re-frame situations to see the positive side in them will always respond better to difficult situations, and by doing so, will be more resilient. If your child responds pessimistically to their next setback or disappointment, it is your job to help them see things differently[3]. In every failure is a new opportunity.

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There is a famous quote by Thomas Edison, after failing a few of his early attempts to build a working light bulb someone asked him how he felt about the many failures. His response was wonderful, he said:

“I haven’t failed, I’ve discovered 10,000 ways how not to invent a light bulb”

Of course, in the end, he succeeded too!

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Encourage your child a small level of measured risk-taking[4].
Obviously I’m not saying you should encourage them to do something dangerous. However it can be beneficial to encourage your child to do things when there is a possibility of failure. Trying and failing at something worthwhile is infinitely more important than never trying.
In doing this, and developing this mindset will make your child learn that no failure is world ending or absolute if you keep on trying. This mindset is a key building block of resilience.

Don’t rush in and solve all of your child’s problems, but allow room from growth.
If your child comes to see you as the one who solves their problems, then there is no room for them to grow, for them to experience success and failure through their efforts alone. Whilst it is important to be their rock, or their advocate, you need to give them a chance to try things for themselves, even if they fail. You can never learn to ride a bike properly if you never remove the training wheels.Again, once they see themselves succeeding by their efforts, and working through every failure. They will become more resilient changes and failures as a consequence.

Be a role model and someone your child could look up to.
All of these mean little if they don’t have someone to base their actions on. If they have no model of resilience to emulate[5]. This is where you come in. I’ve written about the importance of being a supportive influence, but sometimes that isn’t enough. You can’t be a pessimist and help someone become an optimist. You need to live and act in the ways you want your child to act.
Here both you, and your child, will become develop great resilience and stand tall against all that life throws at you.

Reference

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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