5 Strategies for Teaching Emotional Resiliency
Morning snuggles are such a treat. I adore getting to spend a few minutes simply being still with the kids before the rush of the day happens.
On this particular morning it was just Averie and I. After the morning haziness passed, Averie started planning her birthday party. The party she has been planning since the moment she left her last party…such a Pinterest fail.
She’s going over the guest list and she burst into tears. Through the sobs, I heard in her 4 1/2 year old way she felt rejected by a friend. Averie was ignored during their last playdate, and now believed they were no longer friends.
Emotions aren’t always based on reality, but they certainly feel like reality. It would have been easy to dismiss and minimize her emotional pains. From an an adult perspective, we can see how trivial their circumstances may be. But to a child, their emotions are valid and real. And depending on your child’s temperament, expressed in very different ways.
Juggling my role as mom and my skills as a therapist, I embarked on a lesson of emotional resiliency with my precious daughter:
Validate their experience – It’s natural for parents to want to shield their children from negative emotions. Whether you acknowledge your child’s emotions or not…they still feel them. As a parent, take the opportunity to validate their experience. Taking time to tell Averie, “I know you are sad right now and your heart is hurting.” Acknowledges her experience and helps her to begin to have language to use to communicate as she encounters other emotional hurdles.
Reaffirm your child’s identity – “At the heart of resilience is a belief in oneself—yet also a belief in something larger than oneself,” Hara Estroff Marano wrote in her article The Art of Resilience. In the face of rejection or other painful emotions, speak truth about your child’s identity. I told Averie who she is: smart, kind, and funny. My hope is she will model this in face of future adversity. Circumstances and challenges are sure to come, but my prayer is that she will have a firm foundation about her identity and worth.
Broaden the horizon – Grown ups and children alike lack perspective from time to time. Help your child see the bigger picture. In this instance, Averie only focused on this one friend. She’s an important friend, but only one of many friendships in her life. Discussing these other friendships transformed her tears into smiles.
Foster problem solving skills – Apart of me wanted to give Averie a list of things she could do different in the future. Wrong approach. Regardless of the age, begin teaching your child how to solve problems for themselves. Provide opportunities to cultivate problem solving skills. The result is empowerment and a healthy self-esteem.
Give them lots of love – When kids know they are unconditionally loved, they enter the world with greater resolve and confidence.
Being a parent is a hair-raising, gut-wrenching, thrill ride of an experience. Just like Forest Gump…daily, you never know what you are going to get. A sweet snuggle moment transformed into an emotional crisis. I’m reminded of Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Invest in your child’s emotional well-being. This is investment yields great dividends both now and in the future.
Join the conversation: If you are a parent, what emotional difficulties do you frequently encounter?
Blessings to you,