Raising Resilient Kids

In focusing in on the topic of GRIT we are taking a journey in which we study the characteristics of a “gritty” person. For this we have come up with the acronym:

G = Growth (mindset)
R = Resilience
I = Integrity
T = Tenacity

So far we have talked about a growth mindset and now are looking at the idea of resilience – being able to “bounce back” from difficult times, setbacks, and other significant challenges. We have learned that it is a key characteristic found in “successful” people and is an important part of handling all that life “shoots” at a person. We have also clarified that resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have (fixed mindset). It instead involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed.

As educators and parents our natural reaction to this information is that we want to make sure our kids learn to be resilient. So how do we do that? How do we “create” resilient kids? Well, as with so many other things in life, it is not easy, especially for our generation of parents. The scary thing, as I have been doing some reading and research, is how much current parenting trends and behaviors actually inhibit or discourage the development of resilience in our kids. In this age of hyper and helicoptering parenting, we are potentially raising a generation of kids who will have very little resilience.

Here is a paraphrased list of steps taken from an article on the Internet about how to foster resilience in your children. As with many of the other things I have written about for this blog, the first step we can take is to learn more about it. There are many articles on the Internet and a number of books you can buy that will give you very specific and detailed ideas on raising resilient kids.

  • Don’t Accommodate Every Need: Kids cannot develop resilience if their every need or want is met constantly by parents. You can’t learn to bounce back if there is always someone eliminating all the setbacks and difficulties in your life.
  • Avoid Eliminating All Risk: When we take away every risk because of our fears for our children, we are simply removing all the opportunities for our kids to learn resilience.
  • Teach Them to Problem-solve: When your child faces a challenge, don’t solve it for them, but instead help them problem-solve ideas to handle the difficulty they are facing.
  • Don’t Provide All the Answers. Our children need to gain confidence that they can solve their own problems and find their own answers.
  • Let Your Kids Make Mistakes. This is probably the hardest one for parents. You have to let your children face failure from time to time. Without facing some adversity and setback in life, they cannot learn to build the resiliency muscles they will need as adults.
  • Model Resiliency. Our children learn from watching us. Show them how to handle setbacks and deal with problems in life.

The issue of developing and raising kids with resilience is not whether or not it is possible or can our children learn to be resilient. We already know the answer to those questions. The bigger question for us is whether or not we, the adults, will have the courage, guts, and grit to make it happen.

Karl Steinkamp
Blog #36
Day 44

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