- I am lovable. (Healthy supportive relationships)
- I am capable. (Self initiative and efficacy)
- I can handle it. (Managing emotions appropriately)
The final piece of resiliency is being able to see yourself in the statements above. Children and teens are building their identities and parents are integral to this. We are helping them learn that they are lovable, capable and can handle it. This is a process so don’t be dismayed if you have a child who struggles in any of these three areas; it’s part of growing.
Think about weight lifting. You stress the muscle, it’s sore the next day, it builds new fibers to become stronger. That’s how growth works. A child confronts failure or sadness or feeling bad about themselves and we help them find ways to confront that and grow through it.
Sometimes a child meets someone who doesn’t like them. In healthy families they turn to their families who love them unconditionally and that reminds them that they are lovable so they can internalize that message. Eventually if someone doesn’t like them they remember that they are lovable even if not everyone likes them.
Sometimes a child confronts a task that is too big or difficult for them. In healthy families they get encouragement and direction to figure out how to get the thing done anyway. Eventually when they see a difficult task ahead they remember how capable they are and they figure out how to get it done.
Sometimes a child feel overwhelmed by sadness or fear or anger. In healthy families they are comforted and taught healthy coping mechanisms. Eventually when they confront sadness or fear or anger they go back to those learned tools and deal with those feelings appropriately.
Each time they face one of these resiliency challenges and overcome them they are building a self-concept that says, “I am lovable, I am capable, I can handle it” and this essential idea of themselves allows them to cope with whatever life throws their way. Not being able to do these things — caring too much about what other people think, quitting instead of soldiering through, tantrums and tears — those are all appropriate stops along the way of growing. It is not a sign that they are broken. It is not a sign that you have failed as a parent. It is a sign that they are still growing. (We are all still growing; it’s just more obvious with kids.)
Resiliency is made up of skills. Some of us are better at some skills than other. Some of us, for example, are naturally better runners or better cooks or better at managing big emotions but the rest of us can improve. And just like we shouldn’t expect every child to be born a potential Olympian, we need to be patient when our children struggle with resiliency skills. That struggle is normal.
We can learn better resiliency skills, too. We can learn to internalize a self concept that tells us that we are loved, capable, and can handle it. Just like learning to balance a checkbook or riding a bike, we can become more resilient with effort and intention. As we bring those skills to our children, we can bring those skills to ourselves.
The You Are Not Your Mother community is built around growing resiliency skills in ourselves so we can grow them in our children. Together we will learn that we are lovable, we are capable and that we can handle it.
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