Building up resilience in ourselves and our family is certainly something that relies on many different contributing factors. Whilst there are things we have little or no control over and that much of how we cope comes from life experience itself, I do believe however, that there are many things we can do to help provide the right environment for our children to better enable them to withstand lifes challenges. Below is a list of what I believe are some of the important ways in which we can help make a difference to the coping abilities of our families. In the future I hope to use these beliefs as a foundation to help explore the many numerous issues faced by parents and adolescents.
- Provide a relatively stress-free environment full of love and nurturing care. No home is ever going to be completely stress-free all of the time, but we can work at reducing stressful situations by providing strict boundaries, helpful routines and an environment that caters for the individuals but works to provide a nurturing of the family unit as a whole.
- Allow plenty of play and play that involves risk-taking. Children must be given the opportunity to approach challenges, assess situations, make choices and learn from experience.
- Give children ritualistic experiences and many moments of joy. Create memories of moments in time when they feel happiness and love, have lots of laughter and a general sense that the world is a fun place to be. This helps to remind us in times of bleakness and despair that it is worth getting back up again…that we have enough great memories to know that the world can be a place of joy again.
- Ensure your children feel they are able to manage strong negative feelings and have someone with whom they feel they can communicate their particular needs. A naturally happy and optimistic disposition is not always a part of a persons make-up and we need to be alert to any negative experiences or periods of time that may need addressing.
- Nurture your children but do not do for them what they can do for themselves. Allow them to develop their own self-sufficiency, adaptability and self-esteem by promoting independence.
- Remind each other of the ability to control the way we think. Every individual has control over their thought processes regarding any given event or situation. As a result, we have direct control over the way we act and behave in response to any situation. By questioning negative or unhelpful thought processes, we are able to gain healthier and less stressful perspectives and responses. This also helps in exposing ourselves to otherwise fearful situations that are perfectly manageable and even rewarding.
- Expose to a range of social experiences to develop problem-solving skills and the development of a healthy support network.
And of course the greatest teacher of resilience is ourselves, and the role models we put forth to our children. By taking care of oneself, and by putting our needs first, only then can we hope to portray the best possible example of living resiliently. It is inevitable that life will throw us challenges and certainly they are not always spread around evenly. It is important that in these times however, we have the ability to allow our emotions to take us where we need to go, and be confident that we have the ability to climb back up again or in the words of the Japenese proverb….. “to fall down seven times, and get up 8 times”.