Resilience is the ability to cope well with difficulties and to bounce back from setbacks.
While some people are naturally more resilient than others, resiliency can also be intentionally developed.
Parenting Resiliently - An Introduction
In addition to wanting to develop resilience within ourselves, many wonder how to develop resilience in our children. (The ideas below can also be applied to others whose development we want to influence, such as grandchildren and direct reports in the workplace.) Remember that resilience is like a buffer, a cushion for reducing shock or damage. Resilience does not eliminate adversity, it helps people to effectively deal with difficult conditions. It gives people a sense of competency in dealing with the demands and challenges encountered in everyday life. Some parents try to protect their children from all adversity. I see parenting as guiding our children toward functioning and happy adults. "Good sailors are not made on calm seas." For our children to manage the wavy seas of adult life, they need guidance in developing the skills of good navigation. It is important that they not be overly shielded from frustrations and disappointments, and that they receive guidance in addressing these frustrations and disappointments. No need to create these moments, there are plenty enough that will naturally appear!
Some beginning pointers in developing resilience in our children (and others):
Overall guide: Our parenting (and other) decisions are guided by values and priorities, both conscious and unconscious. Consciously making parental decisions according to "What can I do to foster resiliency?" can be a useful guide in many situations.
Realistic expectations. Life is not a road without bumps. When one expects an absence of bumps, bumps can be disconcerting and lead to a negative attitude. We can help our children understand that life is a swerving and bumpy road, and, that we can develop the capability to masterfully maneuver the swerves and bumps.
Successes and Mistakes. A sense of success is critical for positive development. Look for opportunities to encourage successes, such as finding a class in an area where your child has talent (or tasks that highlight workers' talents), and taking the time to celebrate (real) successes. Also, consider mistakes as teachable moments rather than moments of shame. Be aware of timing when initiating the teachable moment aspect, children (people) need varying amounts of time following a mistake until they are ready to focus on lessons learned.
Problem solving. Model a problem-solving orientation when confronted with your own challenges, and guide your child through a similar process when they are faced with challenges.
Responsibility. Teaching your child to take responsibility starts with guiding them in identifying where they have responsibility; where they have control, where to invest their energies and efforts.
Discipline. Children crave discipline, really. They crave someone they respect to show them boundaries, in a loving way that likewise respects the child as a human being. Discipline with the goal of increasing self-discipline (if necessary, count to 10 and take deep breaths until ready to pursue this goal).
Finally, enjoy your children. Taking the time for joyful moments builds resilience, and much more.
Happy Hanukah, and wishing great resilience for all affected by the Carmel fire.
Carolyn S. Tal, PhD
Psychologist and Consultant - working with individuals, couples, and business partners