Category Archives: Resilience and Self-confidence

Facilitating Resilience via Butteryfly Effect and Bee Sydrome (Part 3)

  1. Bounce back like a boxer:

The art of resilience, swinging with the punches, taking the knocks and getting back up again. These are some of the characteristics of the boxer in the ring. It’s not really about the boxing, but more about keeping in mind  some of the attributes of a boxer and his sport when supporting our children in facing  the ‘hard knocks of life’.

How to roll with the punches and bounce back:

bouncing-back-feature1

  • Keep healthy hearts, minds and bodies.
  • Help children (and parents) see discipline not as punishment but opportunities for learning. 
  • Keep stress at a manageable level.  Don’t organise every minute of the afternoon with extra activities rushing from one place to another.
  • Take time out to be at home and do something creative.
  • Praise courage and tenacity – lean on those ropes and then bounce back ready to face the next round with strength of character and endurance.

Winston Churchill once said…”Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

 

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN :  (in butterfly terms)

B. be hopeful and confident in your self-worth
U. understand your feelings
T. try new things
T. talk about your problems
E. evaluate strengths and weaknesses
R. run, jump, skip and play outdoors
F. feel special and appreciated
L. look at mistakes as challenges
Y. yes you can try, and if you don’t succeed try and try again

Remember when nothing seems to be going right – go left! (Anonymous quote)

Resilience is developed through trial and error; no experience is wasted if it is handled in the right way.

 

References:

Generation next.com.au

Healthy children .org

Family TLCfamily.net

Facilitating Resilience via Butteryfly Effect and Bee Sydrome (Part 2)

Family eating dinnerSucceed like the bees

Bees are social insects and live together in harmony with a structure and a well organised system of hardworking role models and a routine. This kind of lifestyle encourages family connection and teaching children in a safe environment.

There is law and order and routine in a beehive.  Everyone knows their place and their value. Communication is important and every little bee is positive about their contribution to the hive.  Human parents can also encourage their children to have a good work ethic and nurture a positive self-image. Set realistic attainable goals and be available to talk about how to help each other in different situations.  When you have feelings of self-worth and positive coping skills you can stand firm in the face of adversity and be more resilient.

How do you encourage the bee syndrome at home?

Here are some ideas:

  • Have a routine at home that allows children to be part of the everyday responsibilities. Doing little chores around the house builds up character and family values.
  • Help children have a sense of belonging so when things go wrong they have a solid foundation to fall back on.
  • Make time to have family meals together and share coping skills.
  • Play board games as a family and encourage healthy competition.
  • Encourage friendships and fun outdoor exercise. Rough and tumble with friends is a great way to foster friendly bouts of resilience.
  • Be inventive and try new things, experiment with new recipes in the kitchen or try some fun science experiments at home. Remember, they don’t always have to work! Make mistakes to learn from. The inventor Thomas Edison learnt the hard way too!!  What was Edison’s attitude?  He said…. ‘I haven’t failed, I have identified 10 000 ways this doesn’t work.” We build resilience in our children by letting them try and try again.

 

Follow this link for more tips on how to develop resilience in your children…

Facilitating Resilience via Butteryfly Effect and Bee Sydrome (Part 1)

campingRESILIENCE: Struggle like a butterfly, succeed like the bees, bounce back like the boxer….

‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’….

Famous words from the world heavy weight champion boxer, Muhammad Ali.  So what do a butterfly, bee and boxer have in common? RESILIENCE.

Resilience is about recovery, or the ability to bounce back from an adversity.  How do we teach children to have these qualities as they grow up?  Preparing your children to face disappointment, changes and challenges in everyday life is a very important aspect of parenting.  Mother Nature is always a great teacher. Look at the life of the butterfly and the bee and see what you can learn from them.

Struggle like a butterfly

How beautiful is the butterfly? It is wonderful to admire their colourful wings and ability to flit from flower to flower enjoying a lovely summer’s day. However, if you look at the life cycle of the butterfly you will know that it did not arrive at its glorious stage in life without a struggle.

Parents need to realise that often it is the struggles that they allow children to face that could be the very opportunities their children need to develop character and resilience. Doing everything for your child and always picking up the pieces or making a plan so that they only experience success in every situation is not the best strategy. It might be convenient in the moment but it could also make your children  feel incapable of doing things for themselves? Seeing children being carried into school for instance says – ‘I am a baby, I need to be carried’ or picking up their school bags and holding everything while the child walks free and easy gives a message of ‘I’m not responsible, I need Mum to carry my school bag.”

It is so tempting, in the desire to be the best parent, to want to provide everything.  This leads to a need for immediate gratification.  I want it and I get it is an attitude that is not going to help develop many positive characteristics in your child, including resilience. Look again at the butterfly:It must have been pretty frustrating being stuck in a cocoon for a couple of weeks when all you wanted to do was fly!How can you teach your child to get wings and fly?

Some suggestions to help facilitate resilience:

  • Have some outdoor adventures together, go camping and struggle together with the campsite, erecting the tent, catching some fish for supper and other fun camping ideas.
  • Model positive coping skills to your children and talk about how to handle difficult situations.
  • Acknowledge children’s strengths and empower them to make decisions even if they make mistakes.
  • Recognise weaknesses and be open to discussions on feelings.
  • Go to great movies that provide a forum for a family outing followed by a discussion on the positive and negative parts of the film.

 

Click here for more ideas to help you facilitate resilience… 

Resilience in Children (Part 4)

  • emtional-resilienceEncourage children to make decisions for themselves by giving them opportunities for making choices. As children grow older, having opportunities to make their own decisions help them develop their reasoning skills thereby facilitating the creation of well-informed decisions in the future. Opportunities for decision-making may also present opportunities to practice setting realistic goals and moving forward to achieve them. Similarly, it also presents situations that would promote attachment and bonding between us as parents and our children.  For instance, when we make rules for them, we can invite them to make the rules with us so that these rules are realistic for both parties. Through this, we are able to bond with our children while at the same time communicate to them that their decisions and their voices are valued in the family.
  • Model and teach self-care behaviors from an early age. Research has shown that children who are able to maintain regular sleeping patterns, eat healthily, relax and take a break at times, seem to be better in managing life stressors.
  • Model and teach an optimistic approach to stressors and discuss these challenges as the best way to learn. As this can help children to learn to find solutions to their own problems and provide a better alternative to worrying about them instead.
  • Teaching children that it’s important to accept the fact that they cannot please everyone they meet and accepting this when it occurs is helpful.
  • We as parents need to practice and demonstrate being resilient ourselves. Setting a good example for our children can encourage them to do the same.  We cannot pretend to our children we don’t face challenges, neither can we burden our children with the full detail of ‘adult problems. It can be helpful to tell our children about the problem we are having in child appropriate details, discuss how we will cope and get through these difficulties and move on focus on more important things.

 

References:

Resilience Guide for Parents and Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resilience.aspx

Building resilience to cope with stress. Retrieved from http://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/health-and-community/enewsletter/building-resilience-cope-stress

Resilience. Retrieved from  http://www.handsonscotland.co.uk/flourishing_and_wellbeing_in_children_and_young_people/resilience/resilience.html

Resilience in Children (Part 3)

resilience-3How can we help our children develop resilience?

Now that we are more aware of the nature and the importance of resilience, what are the things that we could possibly do to help our children become more resilient? Here are some of the suggestions that we were able to compile from our resources.

  • Maintain an open communication line with them and regular times to communicate. Sometimes, we find ourselves managing so many things that we end up forgetting to properly listen to our children and what’s going on in their world. But when they come to us with their fears and their questions, it can be a helpful cue to stop what we are doing, sit down with them and explore what’s going on with them. Sometimes, all our children need use to do is to be present and interested in their concerns, and not necessarily give them advice on how to ‘fix’ the problems.
  • Encourage our children to make more connections with other people so they can experience the benefits of social support from others. There will always be times where we cannot be there for our children physically even when we want to e.g. when we are away for work. If our children have friends at school and have other older people with whom they have a connection, they can get a large dose of social support from all of these individuals. The support that others would give them may provide them the comfort and empathy that they need, which in turn can strengthen their resilience.
  • Establish, continue or tighten-up their daily routine. Kids, particularly the younger ones, find comfort in structure because structure provides them predictability which reduces their anxiety. When they are able to see this, they may gain better footing in terms of how they would approach their day. Structure can be done through the form of household chores, after-school clubs and activities and even playtime. When children engage in productive, structured activities, they may feel confident about their capacity to take on responsibilities and succeed in completing them.

Resilience in Children (Part 2)

resilience-2-1Why is developing resilience important?

Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”. With this statement, Darwin was able to capture the idea of resilience in very few words and imply that survival and evolution is about adapting to change and overcoming difficulties.

Being resilient though does not mean that children will not feel “anxiety or uncertainty”, it just means that they manage it more productively. There is still a possibility that they would feel anxious and uncertain but if they are resilient, they will likely have a buffer against these experiences.

Because they have a buffer, children who are resilient may experience less stress. This however does not mean that they will not be overwhelmed by stressors at other times. They may have stressors and they may experience stress related to these things. But the amount of resilience they have can make them more prepared and more willing to face their stressors. Social stressors may include being teased by their peers, as well as being accepted in one group and excluded in another. At the same time, in the classroom, they will have to deal with increasing complex academic tasks as they move through the years.

They have to juggle these school stressors while balancing their roles at home and in the community. When all of these things add together, it is possible for our children to get confused and feel lost at times. It is also common for them to doubt their ability to succeed in each of their tasks and roles e.g. as students, peers, sons or daughters, and as siblings. However, helping them develop their resilience, can help them to manage their emotions better, get along with others well, cope with their concerns and make good decisions. In fact, resilience can help them come up with practical skills that they could use to solve many of their academic and non-academic concerns.  

Resilience in Children (Part 1)

resilient-child-1What is resilience: An Overview

There are times when as parents, we may think that our children spend their daily lives being carefree and not worrying over anything. However, the demands of today’s society may actually ask our children to deal with certain concerns that can range from something as simple as adjusting to a new school environment to more complex situations such as those that involve bullying from their peers. If we add this to the notion that our children are still in the process of finding their place in the world, it is possible for their lives may not be as happy-go-lucky as we may assume. Despite this, our children can develop the capacity to adapt to adversities that they may encounter, and this capacity is known as resilience.

Now, we might think that the concept of resilience is more applicable in situations that would involve adolescents. After all, because their world is more expanded, adolescents seem to be the ones who are exposed to more life stressors. But as we have stated in the previous paragraph, as society continues to evolve and young children may encounter situations requiring resilience. Some examples of these situations include hearing about bad things in the news or in media, witnessing their parents fight, and seeing a classmate go through family concerns.

How do we know if our children are resilient?

Resilient children, or children who are showing resilience in certain situations, display specific characteristics.  They are able to express and articulate their emotions and they can say what is on their mind. In addition, they are able to experience strong emotions such as anger but can also overcome them. They are able to manage themselves when a situation makes them upset. Likewise, when they have concerns such as having a hard time with their schoolwork, they are able to create varying possible solutions that they could try out. When a solution does not work, they would know when to stop doing it but would remain hopeful about the outcome. Similarly, if they need help, they know who and when to ask for it.  In other words, children who are resilient can “bounce back” from the things that life would throw at them because they have the coping skills that are essential for bouncing back. So in a way, we can say that for resilient children, “if life throws them lemons, they make a lemonade out of them!”

Managing parenting stress (continued)

Strategies to help parents experiencing parenting stress (continued)

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Friends and families of new parents will often offer their help by way of babysitting services, or cooking meals for the new family in the early days after baby’s arrival home. New parents may accept this help in the beginning but begin to feel they need to cope alone and refuse later offers of assistance. If you have more than one child, the load becomes even greater and asking for assistance may become vital to the well being of everyone in your family.
  • Spend time together: Spend time with your family doing something fun. Parents have so many daily demands on them that it is common to feel we don’t have time to enjoy our families. It may seem ridiculous, but consider scheduling in fun time with your family – we schedule everything else and those things that don’t get allocated time often don’t happen. Spending “quality” time with our family members alleviates stress, improves relationships, improves the behaviour of our children, and reminds us why we decided to have kids in the first place.
  • Manage mental health issues: Recognise when your own anxieties and worries are playing a role in your overall stress levels. Many parents find they have a set of their own personal concerns regarding their new family that contributes to their overall level of stress. Be this financial concerns, anxiety about raising children or other personal worries that may be contributing – it is important to seek professional assistance in working through those issues.

 

We all have ideal notions about what family life will be like but, unfortunately, daily demands of parenting, job requirements, running a household, financial stressors, and other responsibilities can tend to drain our mental and emotional resources, leading to stress. However, there are a few simple things you can do to alleviate some stress in your life and take the time to enjoy the family you have created.

 

Reference list

  1. http://www.alternet.org/culture/new-study-finds-having-your-first-child-makes-you-miserable
  2. http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/features/stress-and-your-baby

 

Managing Parenting stress

Many new parents spend the greater part of the 9 months of pregnancy dreaming and romanticising about their new family constellation and the “bundle of joy” they are about experience. Often the reality of having a baby is very different to the idea, and many parents find themselves somewhat overwhelmed by the adjustments and demands being placed on them in the first few months of caring for their new baby, and during periods of the years that follow when new challenges arise.

In fact, a new study on parental happiness (or the lack thereof) has found that, while anticipatory happiness rose in the year preceding the birth, a significant percentage of parents reported a drop in overall happiness once baby had arrived .  Then, each additional child introduces a new level of stress to the family dynamic.

Parent Stress changes child psychology brisbaneParental stress, while inevitable and normal, certainly has an effect on baby. Children are well aware of their parents’ reactions and attuned to their emotions. Many studies have indicated that when mum is stressed, the baby is likely to experience stress too . So while some of this stress is inevitable, managing parental stress becomes a priority – not only for the children’s sake, but for your own mental health as well.

The first step is to ensure that you are looking after yourself. It is very easy to forget about your own needs, or at least bump them to the bottom of the priority list, when you have children. However, it is really important that you prioritize your own needs as well. That means ensuring that you follow a healthy diet, get enough rest (wherever and whenever you can) and exercise. Taking out 30 minutes for a brisk walk by yourself can do wonders for your mental state – not only does it get the blood flowing, but it gives you some valuable time to yourself.

Other self care activities can take a few seconds and may seem more do-able if you feel strapped for time and energy:

  • breathe – take a long deep slow breath in and an even longer slower breath out
  • focus on what you are doing – use your senses to fully notice your actions and surroundings, e.g. with a mouthful of food take a second or two to notice the taste, texture, smell, sounds, and sights
  • stop what you are doing and sit with silence (for the few seconds that you get)
  • gently stretch – raise your arms above your head or out in front/to the sides, look left and right, roll your shoulders, try and touch your toes.
  • take a moment to switch off from the outside world – read an article in a magazine, check facebook (briefly!!), look through your junk mail…

Click here to read the second part of this article

Emotions and Resilience

Managing emotions and Resilience

Everyone experiences emotions – the feelings we have in response to situations and events. It is healthy to have a spectrum of emotions but the way our responses are expressed to others can cause difficulties. Children are generally less able to regulate, or control, their emotional expression than adults. This is due to brain development and is age-appropriate. However, supportive adults can help children express their emotions and associated behaviours in socially acceptable ways. Some ideas include:

  • Talking about emotions with your child in your everyday conversations. Using a variety of words to describe emotions encourages children to verbalise what they are feeling rather than act it out. Normalising ALL emotions is also important so your child feels ok about themselves, even when they are experiencing unpleasant emotions
  • Setting up realistic expectations and boundaries for behaviour. Children have very little control over what happens in their lives but being able to predict the outcomes of their behaviours helps them to make choices about how they express themselves.
  • Guiding behaviour with attention and acknowledgement of efforts to behave appropriately and safely. Pay more attention to the behaviours you want and less to the behaviours you don’t want (considering safety needs)
  • Modelling the expression your own emotions with appropriate words and behaviours. Children learn from those around them so your ways of expressing and managing emotions, both pleasant and unpleasant, are ideal opportunities to show kids that emotions can be felt and expressed safely and appropriately.