Resilience means coming back from difficulties. Resilience means overcoming challenges. Resilience is an important trait in healthy human beings. We all face difficulties. It’s how we come back from those difficulties that define us. Michael Jordan has been credited with saying, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” His personal resilience is what made him a champion.
As parents and caregivers, we want our children to be resilient. The question is how do we do that? How do we teach our children to be resilient? One of the first things we must do is change the way we think about adversity. We must look at challenges differently. This will allow us to teach our children a new way to view them as well. A recent article titled Developing Resilience: Overcoming and Growing from Setbacks said “Resilient people view a difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralyzing event. They look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth. They don’t view them as a negative reflection on their abilities or self-worth.” If we can pass this attitude to our children, they too will see things in a different light.
Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg identified coping skills as one of the seven “C”s of resilience the book A Parent’s Guide to Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Your Child Roots and Wings. Coping mechanisms must sometimes be taught as they don’t always come naturally, especially to children. Coping skills come in many forms. Two forms to consider are meditation techniques and gratitude techniques.
Meditation uses focused contemplation or thought to reach a heightened level of awareness. Neuroscientist Richard Davidson found evidence that mindfulness does increase resilience, and the more mindfulness meditation you practice, the more resilient your brain becomes. Similarly, gratitude techniques can include a simple re-framing of your situation. A 2012 article on OTCoach.com, a resource for occupational therapists, said we already do this when we say things like “look at the bright side” or “every cloud has a silver lining”. The author talks about using “I get to” as a tool when overcoming challenges. An example that a child facing the first day at a new school may use it “I get to meet new friends today”, instead of “I have no friends here”. Perhaps we can teach our children to be grateful for the opportunity to meet those new friends. It will certainly help with their resilience!