“I don’t want to”. The cry of my son echoed through my very being. It was the same old conversation. He didn’t want to go to school. God bless his little heart. This little guy struggles with endurance and perseverance.
He has a fantastic teacher, yet as the workload increases and changes come, his desire to be part of it decreases. His drive to complete a task and be resilient is a struggle to his very core.
I have been a mom for thirteen years and a teacher for nearly twenty-three. Resiliency is a character quality I have seen slowly become harder and harder for kids to master. Merriam Webster defines resiliency as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and toughness; the capability of a strained body to recover size and shape after deformation caused by compressive stress.”
With that definition in mind, I would say that every mother out there has developed their own resiliency.
Haven’t we all in one way had our bodies strained and needed to recover its size and shape?
Even in the midst of this crisis our ability to be resilient is being tested to new levels.
Whether mentally or physically this defines us as moms to the core.
Teaching our children this same skill can be equally difficult.
How do I help them develop emotional and mental wellness in a world of self-gratification and information overload?
How does a mom teach them to persevere and endure when life is hard, unpredictable, and unfair?
The ability for my kids, and myself, to become resilient falls into the category of being able to rightly and aptly recover from or adjust to misfortune or change. Recognizing that my children’s resiliency begins with me is crucial.
As frustrations, disappointments, or trials come our way, I am often reminded of the verse that trials come “…so that the genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in the praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
(I Peter 1:7, ESV)
As I work through these areas with my children, I have found three key ways to strengthening resiliency.
Be Your Child’s Rooting Section
Kids need to know that someone believes in them. If my own child doesn’t think I believe they can get through a tough spot, how in the world will they even want to try?
Being a mom who takes time to listen and encourage is key to their success in a tough time. Children need time to process and talk through their feelings and frustrations. I need to be an observer and listener, especially during these times.
How is my child responding to normal relationships? Are they withdrawing or lashing out in anger? What are the silent signals they are giving to family members or caregivers that would indicate a need for some extra care and time on my part?
Kids need to be able to share how scared they are and hear similar experiences you may have had growing up. This validates their feelings and allows them to see an example of empathy and comfort.
This is also an opportunity to show kids the value of the verse that tells us God “…comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction….” (2 Corinthians 1:4, ESV). Our struggles just may be something we can use to help someone else. This helps kids feel empowered and helps them look for others they can empathize with in times of need.
Pray With Your Child
Children want advice when they are hurting. Sometimes we don’t’ know what to say. I have found that prayer is the best way to show your kids that you have don’t have all the answers, but you know someone who does.
There have been horrible tragedies that my family has been forced to walk through. Amidst the tears and questions, when we have stopped and prayed with each other, it calms the raging storm. I can remember praying with my kids when my dad, their grandfather, suddenly died. I had no words that came to me.
But through my tears and broken heart I was able to pray back to God His promises out loud with my kids. Phrases I used were “…thank you God that you are a comfort right now. Thank you that you are our protection”. “Thank you that you have experienced loss and you know how sad we are”. All of this showed my kids that God hears our prayers and we can feel His presence in difficult times.
When my kids get into a slump, we have started a practice of making gratitude journals. These tiny notebooks sit by their beds and at night and before they go to sleep, we write down three to five things they are thankful for.
This shifts the perspective off what is “wrong” and helps them find things that are right and true. It also helps them experience the joy of “…giving thanks in all circumstances…” (I Thessalonians 5:18,ESV) This little act helps my kids see that even in the hardest times, we can lean on a God who cares for each of us.
Kids are a walking development of character. The ability to be able to overcome difficulties is an important skill for them to be develop. No one knows what life will bring.
But having resiliency in the middle of hard and messy, is important in being able to do all that God calls us to.
When I teach my kids how to master this, I have taught them a lesson that will carry them throughout the rest of their lives.