Raising resilient kids is actually easier than you think. These simple parenting adjustments will you raise kids who aren’t afraid to fail in life.
It is said that Thomas Edison failed 1000 times before successfully inventing the the light bulb. When asked how it felt to fail 1,000 times, Edison simply said, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention of 1,000 steps.”
I am just saying.
Grit, or strength of will, isn’t necessarily about coming in first place or earning the big bucks. It isn’t about the outcome.
It is about the process.
Think of the high school wrestler, who is practicing late into the evening and making social sacrifices to get ahead.
Picture an exhausted mother who is missing her babies while she is working the night-shift to provide a better life for them.
Or Mulan (yes, we are a Disney-raised family), who portrayed a man to take her father’s place on the battlefield.
Also read: 7 traits of a Resilient Child
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It is the ability to remain resilient despite any odds of adversities one might face.
Grit is the sparkle behind all of those real and fictional life moments that give you the warm and fuzzy feelings. In more technical terms, researchers, such as University of Pennsylvania Professor Angela, define grit power of passion and perseverance towards achieving your long-term goals.
How to Raise Resilient Kids
With all of the comfortable commodities of modern life, raising resilient kids can feel like a challenge.
If I am being fully honest, my three children are spoiled. Most of the time, they are immersed in absolute comfort. If their ipod runs out of batteries they can grab their video game systems. If they are hungry we have a pantry packed with food and snacks. You get the point.
How can we teach our children to have a bring-it-on attitude towards life if they don’t face any obstacles?
As parents, this is where we come in. To build a resilient core in our children, three things are required. A goal, confidence to take risks, and resilience to get back up again.
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1) Goal, Vision, or Plan
Defining a goal is an essential part of this process. Your child can’t work towards something if they don’t have a desired outcome to strive for.
What you can do: Help your child develop an actionable, achievable goal- whether in sports, school, or life.
In the 2003 book, “Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond.” author Paul Meyer describes the characteristics that define a good goal, which he calls a SMART goal.
Smart goals are ones that are:
- Specific: Swim across the pool without a flotation device vs. learn to swim
- Measurable: Get straight A’s on the next report card vs. do better at school
- Achievable: Learn to write vs. author a novel
- Relevant: Make the baseball team this year vs. someday be a pro baseball player
- Time-bound: Spend 10 minutes practicing soccer each night vs. become a better soccer player
Sit down with your child to decide on a goal or two and how you are going to work to achieve it.
Print this form to guide the conversation:
2) Confidence to Take Risks
Once the goal is defined, the next mandatory tool your child needs is the confidence to take risk.
What you can do: Provide encouragement through discussions and personal behavior.
According to research done at the Center on Developing Children, at Harvard University: “The single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.”
When raising resilient kids, some ways to do this is through:
- Relating – tell your child about a time that you worked for a something and had to take risks
- Modeling behavior- develop a goal for yourself and let your child see you work towards it
- Discussion– talk through some obstacles your child may face and how they will get through them
- Encouragement– encourage your child to take a risk and see what happens.
Use any positive or negative experiences as a learning opportunity.
My oldest son wrestles. He works very hard during practice and has a powerful passion for the sport. He wins some matches, and he loses some matches.
Prior to each wrestling match, we encourage him to try his hardest.
If he wins, we talk about what he did to achieve those goals and how to keep it up.
If he loses, then we talk about what to do next to achieve his goal.
3) Resilience to Keep Going
Grit is not earned when your child wins at everything they attempt. Nor does it come from being rewarded for a failed attempt. Grit comes from struggles, discomforts, and difficult experiences.
As parents raising resilient kids, you must be brave enough to allow your child the opportunity to fall down or fall short of their goal.
What you can do: Support your child through a difficult time, but turn their sights towards the future.
To encourage your child to get back on their feet after a loss or failure, try this simple 5 step method:
- Let them be alone to work through their feelings if needed
- Be prepared to offer affection and encouragement
- Allow them to express their emotions and not bottle them up
- Provide stable discussions on getting through a loss
- Talk about next steps they can take to work towards their goal
Also read: 7 Behaviors that are Learned from Parents
Final Thoughts on Raising Resilient Kids
If Thomas Edison quick after one failed light bulb attempt, we would be living in a sad, dark world.
If you want to raise resilient children, then you must loosen up the reigns. You have to encourage them to have a goal they can strive for, and most importantly give them the gift of failure.
They will never develop a bring-it-on outlook if they don’t know what it feels like to keep their heads held high after a loss.
He or she will not thank you now, but I guarantee, when they are an adult who can bounce back after not getting a job or struggling with a relationship, you will deserve a pat on the back.
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