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Develop Resilience In Your Children

There are kids who graze their knees but keep on running. And then there are kids who stare blankly at the trickling blood and decide to sit things out. Put the difference down to resilience. It's that basic "hang in there" instinct all parents hope their children are born with Only, it isn't an instinct. 

It's a character trait that can and should be nurtured, says experts. Experts thinks of resilience as a quotient, much in the same vein as IQ and EQ. And the keys to increasing any child's RQ are figuring out their cognitive styles - that's straightforward enough - and always being ready with some thought provoking encouragement. Now, that's not so easy.

How Does Cognitive Style Play A Role In Resilience?

Because resilience starts from the head. Humans have a natural "fight or flight" response: I will flee in reaction to problems, or I will retaliate when things don't go my way. What you choose to do starts from the head.

How Can Parents Increase Their Child's Resilience Quotient, Since The "Rough Water Of Life" Are Never Predictable?

It's a process of imparting the values that relate to handling struggles. But here we need to look at ourselves first. We are living in a fast-paced society and are very results-oriented. We want the best for our kids. What we don't see is that we fall short on the parenting aspect. We want our children to be obedient, compliant, intelligent.

They should perhaps be versatile in many areas, and should be academically excellent. Unfortunately, we have overlooked the area of emotional health and social health. We become intolerant when our children make mistakes or encounter problems. We get impatient and worked up because the situation doesn't fit our agenda for them. It contradicts our perceptions - we think they shouldn't behave this way - and intrudes upon our list of expectations.

But if we have the mentality of wanting our children to be problem-free, they can never develop resilience. How can they, if they are never allowed to make mistakes or encounter problems in life? Resilience is not about being failurefree and problem-free. We all make mistakes and encounter problems. As parents we need to look beyond the mistakes and into how our children can learn from them.

It's like being a boxer in a ring. You can fall down, but you're not out if you can get up again before the count of 10. We need to teach our kids how to pick themselves up and bounce back. That's what resilience is. This is where the cognitive comes in: Find out what your child's initial response to a problem is. Is it a passive response - total flight, withdraw and drop everything? Or is it active - get worked up, shift blame, point fingers?

Both extremes are undesirable! But here's a teaching moment. Parents should turn things around and say, instead of reacting in these ways, there are other more constructive responses. They can use a modelling approach and use examples from their own experiences. Children in the 10 to 12 age group can identify with simple analogies. Teaching the consequence-based approach is also useful - "think first before you do". In effect, this is cognitive: Think first.

Born Optimistic. Is There Such A Thing, Or Is Optimism Acquired?

There's a saying, "Learn helplessness, learn optimism." Optimism has to be developed. We don't need to go to a school to learn fear, but we need to learn to see the silver lining in the clouds. And resilience has to do with optimism. Parents need to encourage their children to look at the bright side, rather than focus on the cloudy aspects. It's got to be developed. We're not born with it.

But here's another area where, as parents, we cannot give our children what we don't have in terms of our own emotional makeup. If we are not optimistic ourselves, we cannot teach our kids to be optimistic. We cannot impart encouragement if we don't have self-encouragement.

There are many parents who say, I give my children everything money can buy. I send them to the top schools, the best enrichment classes. But life is not just about all the tangible and material things we can give our children. There's the emotional aspect as well. But do we have those resources within ourselves?

Is A Resilient Kid A Happy Kid? How Do You Teach A Child Of Age 10 To 12 Years To Wait For The Proverbial Breaking Of Dawn After A Dark Night?

A resilient child is more robust. He is more failure-proof or stress-proof. There's a difference between stress-free and stress-proof. A waterproof watch is not exempt from wet weather, it's just that water doesn't penetrate (the mechanism). A resilient child will meet failures but won't let failure manage him. His self-confidence is indirectly boosted and generally remains at a high level.


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