As a parent, you can teach your children that they have the power to choose how they feel, think and believe. Kids will be faced with lots of hardships as they grow into adults. Maybe they will experience academic difficulties at school, perhaps they will have problems making friends. There may be a divorce occurring in your family that makes them feel that their life is out of control.
You can roll model healthy behavior by sharing the ways they can manage difficult situations in life. This means that you need to examine what issues your children may be facing and together come up with ways that they can gain strength by them.
When you’re able to teach your children these life skills you are teaching resiliency. Kids are naturally resilient but often times they learn best by watching your behavior and seeing how you are affected by life’s adversities.
I worked with a young boy whose best friend had cancer. Together, my client, his mother, and I sat together and made a list of ways that we could increase his connection to his friend. We talked about the fact that we didn’t like that he had cancer but that this was an opportunity for Josh to let his friend know how much he meant to him. Josh stopped focusing on the cancer and instead started focusing on their friendship which allowed Josh some manageability in this life crisis.
Olivia was devastated when she learned that her parents were going to get a divorce. Mother brought Olivia in to help her deal with her feelings. I included both parents in on separate sessions with Olivia so they could talk about reasons that this would be a better thing for the family. Dad was able to share with Olivia that he wanted mom to find someone that would make her happier and that mom deserved to find that special person. Mother came in and shared with Olivia that mom and dad could no longer agree on important things that made a family stay together and that both she and dad would have less worries and would not argue as much if they lived in separate homes. Olivia was able to understand that although she did not like that her parents were separating, it would allow them to feel and cope better and to be kinder to each other. Olivia had been wishing for a long time that they would be nicer to one other, so this made her feel happier. And she was able to accept her parents decision in a new and different way.
Think of a situation that your child may be having difficulty facing in real time. Discuss the reasons that this is a problem in your child’s life and validate his or her feelings. Identify what are all the possible positive outcomes that could occur because of the problem.
Model for your child, how you would feel if you were in your child’s position and then ask your child to pick one of the potential outcomes that would make your child feel better.
When you examine a current problem and look at what positives might occur, it allows the child to feel empowered, and to look at positive outcomes that can come from experiencing the problem.
You are the most important person in your child’s life. What an awesome gift you can give your child to teach resiliency. After all, no one knows your child better than you!