“People who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change. They neither complain of their lot nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in. Rather, they visualize in their minds that they are not quitters; they will not allow life’s circumstances to push them down and hold them under.”

Charles Swindoll

All kids need to learn to be resilient. I look for it in my grandchildren. I watch for it as they try new things.  I encourage it when they are disappointed and expect it when they are fearful. They are  learning to be resilient.   It is vital for them to do so because their resilience will impact their achievement, the quality of their relationships and even the depth of their faith. I want them to understand that  “the bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn.”  (author unknown)

Why is it that some see opportunity in overcoming obstacles while others see bumps in the road as closed doors?  Why is it that some can handle exceedingly difficult circumstances without giving up while others crumble when faced with even insignificant disappointments?

The difference is resilience.

The dictionary.com definition of resilience is: the ability to spring back- rebound; the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity or the like; buoyancy. Resilience is about managing life successfully, about adapting to stressful events and change in positive healthy ways.  Resilience is the courage to bounce back.  Resilience is learned.  It’s the ability to recover from something:  disappointment, failure, unexpected turn of events, mistreatment, illness, loss.

Most experts agree that the building of resilience starts at an early age but parents and educators can do much to encourage it throughout the child’s growing up years.  Resilient kids have learned to “bounce back,”  a skill that many of today’s teens and young adults lack.

A surprising large number of parents today consider their kids “fragile.”  They come to school on a mission to inform teachers of the need to be extra careful with their children who they consider to be more sensitive and timid than others.  The overly consoling, overly helpful and overly comforting responses by well meaning parents (and even teachers) may in fact interfere with a child’s development of confidence and mastery.   A desire to be pitied and protected takes root in their children who have grown to expect such responses each time they face difficulties and have to struggle.

Tips to foster resilience in your children:

1.    Teach your child to be intuitive and sensitive to the needs and feelings of others but to not drown in their own sorrows and tears.

2.     Don’t refer to your quieter child as shy! Being quiet and thoughtful are positive qualities but shyness has no positive benefits. To be shy means to be withdrawn, timid, & bashful.  A shy child perceives herself as needing others to make it in life.  When children are raised to believe they need someone else to solve their problems and to protect them, they are handicapped in life. (Danny Silk)

3.     Teach your children that in order to be successful, they need to be prepared to fail.  Everyone will experience failure in something they set out to do.  In fact successful people fail more often than unsuccessful people who are often too risk averse to embark on new or challenging endeavors.

4.     To quote Colt McCoy‘s father, “prepare your child for the path and not the path for your child.”  Removing obstacles from their paths denies them opportunities to think and grow; to face their fears and learn.

5.     Stand back and allow your children to experience some disappointment.  Handling disappointment will grow resilience.  To quote Dr. Alicia F. Lieberman, an author and researcher of infant mental health, “Toddlers who don’t gradually learn about disappointment lose their resilience through lack of practice in give-and-take with other people’s needs. They can become self-centered, demanding, and difficult to like or to be with.”

6. Allow your children opportunities to solve their own problems.  You can lovingly guide them and offer suggestions and even empathize with the struggles they are going through but refrain from owning the solution to their problems.  Solving their problems may feel like the loving thing to do but too much of it leads to them feeling incapable and a sense that they cannot make it without you.

7.     Expect your child to keep on improving in whatever they set out to do. A key reason kids quit succeeding (and adults too) is that they plateau and grow complacent.  Growth and improvement promote more growth and improvement. It’s the way we are made.

James 1:2

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But  let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.